New imaging studies on veterans show the complexity of brain networks believed to be involved in both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Both conditions are associated with high rates of disability and suicide, and although they are separate conditions, they commonly co-occur.
For example, a soldier who has developed PTSD as a result of a traumatic experience may have also sustained a brain injury during that experience.
Significant research has been conducted to understand the brain mechanisms underlying PTSD and TBI, but there has still been a lack of knowledge regarding exactly which brain networks are disturbed in these disorders.
To fill this gap, Dr. Jeffrey Spielberg and his colleagues at the VA Boston Healthcare System examined brain networks in veterans with trauma exposure using functional magnetic resonance imaging and graph theory tools.
Graph theory is a new sophisticated analysis that visualizes brain networks at a level of complexity that was previously impossible. It permits examination of the patterns of brain connections, as opposed to examining individual connections.