Brain scans to detect Gulf War syndrome

Nov. 20, 2008 at 9:28 PM
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DALLAS, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas said they are aiming to pinpoint specific areas of the the brain affected by Gulf War Syndrome.

Richard Gunst, Wayne Woodward and William Schucany are collaborating with imaging specialists at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to compare brain scans of people suffering from the syndrome with those of a healthy control group. The SMU team is working with epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haley, an expert on Gulf War syndrome.

Persian Gulf War veterans nationwide are being tested using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging while they perform tasks intended to activate specific regions of the brain.

The SMU team is analyzing brain activation signals reflected from the multiple images taken of each subject's brain to determine which variations are naturally occurring and which are due to the syndrome. Previous analyses have been unable to separate real distinctions.

"Spatial modeling in brain imaging is new," Gunst said in statement. "This has not been done the way we are doing it."

Rapid technological advances in medical imaging of the human brain are imposing demands for new statistical methods that can be used to detect small differences between normal and dysfunctional brain activity, Gunst said.

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