Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 1, 2010
Researchers have discovered a correlation between increased activity among brain circuits and flashbacks among individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
University of Minnesota investigators learned that an increased circuit activity in the right side of the brain is associated with the debilitating, involuntary flashbacks that often characterized PTSD.
The ability to objectively diagnose PTSD through concrete evidence of neural activity, its impact and its manifestation is the first step toward effectively helping those afflicted with this severe anxiety disorder.
PTSD often stems from war, but also can be a result of exposure to any psychologically traumatic event. The disorder can manifest itself in flashbacks, recurring nightmares, anger or hypervigilance.
Using a technique called Magnetoencephalography (MEG), a noninvasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain, researchers found differences between signals in the temporal and parieto-occipital right hemispheric areas of the brain among those with PTSD.
The temporal cortex, in accordance with earlier findings on the effects of its electrical stimulation during brain surgery, is thought to be responsible for the reliving of past experiences.