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 Research Topics    |    Major Focus Areas
Research Topics
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General
Project Summary

Title: Cognitive Function and Symptom Patterns in Persian Gulf Veterans
Synopsis: This study uses MRI and conventional imaging to determine if there are any anatomical or physiological changes in the brains of Gulf War veterans that may point to a cause of unexplained illnesses associated with the Gulf War.
Overall Project Objective: 1) Delineation of a euroanatomical/neurophysiological basis, if any, for the reported cognitive dysfunction in some Gulf War veterans; 2) Delineation of symptom patterns shown by some individuals who served in the Gulf War; and 3) verification of research findings in an independent cohort of soldiers who served in the Gulf shortly after cessation of hostilities.
Status/Results to Date: As of this report 42 subjects have participated in the fMRI component of this project. To date, both symptomatic Gulf War-deployed and non-symptomatic Gulf War-deployed subjects have been recruited. Analyses comparing the symptomatic Gulf War-deployed to the non-symptomatic Gulf War-deployed subjects are ongoing. This subject population does show activation for the three cognitive challenge paradigms. In addition, it appears that specific brain structures activate differently in the high symptom Gulf War veterans compared to the low symptom Gulf War veterans. Recruitment of treatment-seeking non-Gulf War-deployed veterans is in progress. In the LAD component of the study, data analysis and modeling to distinguish between Gulf War-deployed and non-Gulf War-deployed veterans based on previously collected symptom data, is nearing completion. We have explored grouping binary questions with different types of principal clustering component analysis and non-linear integrated index construction methods. Manuscripts are in progress. In the Danish component of the study, a total of 225 of the target 300 Danish subjects (based on a random sampling of the larger Danish Gulf War cohort) have completed the neuropsychological testing battery. Of those, 149 were Gulf War-deployed and 76 were not deployed to the Gulf region. An additional 75 Danish Gulf War veterans from the larger cohort also completed testing. In multivariate analyses, Gulf War-deployed veterans from Denmark demonstrated poorer performances on neuropsychological tests compared to non-Gulf War-deployed veterans. Results from initial analyses of the Danish Gulf War veterans and controls were presented at the Conference on Illnesses among Gulf War Veterans: A Decade of Scientific Research in January 2001. A manuscript describing these results is in preparation.
Project:HHS-5
Agency:Department Of Health And Human Services
Location:Boston University, School of Public Health
P.I. Name:David Ozonoff, M.D.
Research Type:Clinical
Research Focus:Brain & Nervous System
Focus Category:General Health & Physical Symptoms
Status:Ongoing
Study Start Date:November 01,1997
Estimated Completion Date:October 30,2001
Specific Aims: 1) Examine differences in degree of activation present on fMRI scans in specific neuroanatomical regions within the frontal lobe, particularly the cingulate gyrus area and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, in Gulf War veterans challenged with a test of working memory; 2) Use a mathematical technique of Logical Analysis of Data (LAD) to analyze the relationships of symptom responses in Gulf-deployed and non-Gulf-deployed subjects; and 3) Replicate symptom prevalence comparisons and neuropsychological tests in a Danish cohort of Gulf-deployed and non-Gulf-deployed soldiers.
Methodology: 1) Both conventional MRI and functional imaging will be used to assess changes in brain activation, to examine symptom profile, and to examine the relationship between functional activation and clinical state. Subjects will be selected from an ongoing Boston Environmental Hazards Center study of neuropsychological function and will include 20 symptomatic Gulf War-deployed veterans, 20 non-symptomatic Gulf War-deployed veterans, 20 Germany-deployed veterans and 30 treatment-seeking non-Gulf War-deployed veterans. 2) LAD will be used to examine previously collected symptom data from Gulf-deployed and Germany-deployed veterans (n=300) to see if there is a set of complaints characteristic of service in the Gulf region useful for determining etiology or for case definition. 3) Neuropsychological test results and symptom prevalence measures will be replicated and verified in a cohort of Danish armed forces. Neuropsychological function and symptom prevalence of Danish troops deployed to the Gulf (n=200) will be compared with non-deployed Danish troops (n=100).
Most Recent Publications:

Yurgelun-Todd D. fMRI of Persian Gulf War Veterans During a Visual Working Memory Task. International Neuropsychological Society 28th Annual Meeting, Chicago, Feb 2001. Presentation