Can Traumatic Experience Strengthen Brain Function?

Can Traumatic Experience Strengthen Brain Function?

  Recently wrote “For years we’ve been able to see differences between a healthy brain and that of a person who’s been diagnosed with PTSD.

But can we detect differences within a population, all of whom have experienced traumatic events? And if so, what could that reveal about why some people develop PTSD while others don’t?

Portrait of young female US Marine Corps soldier with male officDr. Samantha L. Anders and a team from the Brain Sciences Center at the University of Minnesota wanted to pursue an emerging line of research into whether traumatic experience could actuallystrengthen brain function.

You see, some trauma survivors actually report positive psychological changes following painful or even life-threatening incidents. For example, some survivors of a brain injury or assault report greater feelings of strength, improved relationships with loved ones, or deeper appreciation of life.

To date, researchers have relied solely upon self-reported measures of positive psychological changes. Anders and her team wanted to see if they could find any neurobiological evidence to support claims of posttraumatic growth.

They designed an investigation that recruited as participants 299 US veterans who had been exposed to traumatic events. This sample included 106 veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD. The control group included 193 veterans without PTSD.

Participants completed diagnostic interviews as well as questionnaires that assessed their exposure to trauma, presence of PTSD symptoms, and reported posttraumatic growth.”   Read More

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