Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Earthquakes shake brains as well as bodies

On May 12, 2008 an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale hit the town of Wenchuan in China, killing 69,146 people and seriously injuring 374,131. Brain scans of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have shown alterations in people's brain structure but little is known about changes in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events. Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry in London scanned 44 healthy survivors and 32 controls shortly (13 days) after the Wenchuan earthquake. They found hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain and decreased connectivity in others. The researchers hope that better understanding of the changes in the brain that take place after trauma could lead to an earlier diagnosis of those at risk and more effective treatment for them.

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