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Cuba 'sonic attacks' have changed people's brains, study suggests



MRI brain scans from 40 patients – 23 men and 17 women – showed variations in brain structure and functional connectivity, which measures relationships between different brain regions when compared to 48 other adults. The scans were taken between August 2017 to June 2018.

"There were group differences all over the brain," said study author Ragini Verma, professor of radiology and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "Especially in an area called the cerebellum, which is also implicated in the type of clinical symptoms that most of these patients were demonstrating, which is balance, eye movement, dizziness, etcetera."

Differences in connectivity were also observed in the brain's auditory and visuospatial areas, according to the study. However, the authors note that the clinical significance of these findings is uncertain, and they did not have earlier MRIs of the patients to compare what their brains looked like before the incidents

Moreover, these patterns do not fit a clear

"It certainly does not resemble the imaging presentation of traumatic brain injury or concussion, although they present with clinical symptoms that are concussion-like," said Verma. says something has happened, and we need to look further, and that's about it. "

Dr. Jamshid Ghajar, director of the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center, said it was "remarkable" that researchers found differences between the brains of healthy controls and those involved in the Cuba incident, especially given the differences within the population itself in terms of their symptoms and what kind of complaints they had. "

" I think the jury is out on what caused it, but surely these patients are complaining of the symptoms and they've had measured impairments, "said Ghajar, who was not involved in the new paper. "1

9659010] Many of those stationed in Havana reported hearing" intensely loud "sounds coming from a specific direction, which they described as "buzzing," "grinding metal," "piercing squeals" and "humming," according to another study published by many of the same authors last year

 Crickets could be behind Cuba's sonic attack & # 39; mystery, scientists say

"The sounds were often associated with pressure-like or vibratory sensory stimuli," according to the study. "The sensory stimuli were likened to air 'baffling' inside a moving car with the windows partially rolled down."

One patient reported hearing two 10-second pulses, while others said they could hear the sound for more than 30 minutes, the report said.

A recording obtained by the Associated Press and released in October became the first publicly reported audio sample to be related to the attacks. (19459005)

The noise itself is unlikely to have caused the symptoms directly, according to the study.

 Cuban scientist rejects microwaves as source of mysterious acoustic attacks on diplomats

"We actually do not think that sound was the problem," Dr. Douglas Smith, an author on both studies and director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Brain Injury and Repair, previously told CNN. "I think the sound is a consequence of the exposure."

"I know of no acoustic effect that would produce concussion-like symptoms; according to my research, strong effects on humans require loudness levels that would be perceived as very loud noise while exposed, "Jürgen Altmann, and professor of physics at Technischen Universität Dortmund in Berlin, formerly told CNN

Similarly, the State Department and federal investigators have testified that they were unable to determine the source or cause of the ailments in Havana ,

"If you have taken any of these patients and put them in, they may have been linked to a trauma from a non-natural source. and brain injury clinic and you did not know their background, you would think that they had a traumatic brain injury from being in a car accident or a blast in the military, "Dr. Randel Swanson, another author on both studies and a specialist in brain injury rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania, previously wrote in the medical journal JAMA

Swanson and his colleagues examined patients and found a variety of symptoms including sharp ear pain,

 Another US embassy employee in Havana suffers health effects

Another US embassy employee in Havana suffers health effects ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171028094229-cuba-sonic-attacks-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>

] In addition, the majority of patients reported problems with memory, concentration, balance, eyesight, hearing, sleeping or headaches that lasted more than three months

"It's like a concussion without a concussion," Swanson wrote. ] Many reported feeling "mentally foggy" or "slowed" for months, the authors said. Some reported irritability and nervousness, with two meeting criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Poor job performance was also observed.

Three people eventually needed hearing aids for moderate to severe hearing loss, and others had ringing or pressure in their ears. More than half needed to be prescribed medication to sleep or to deal with headaches. Many were, at least for a period of time, unable to return to work.

Doctors have noted that some of the patients' symptoms are not typically seen in a concussion, such as pain and ringing in only one ear.

Doctors remain baffled, while Cuban officials have vigorously denied that there have been any targeted attacks on diplomats in Havana and said their symptoms could have been caused by other factors

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Canadian diplomats who experienced similar symptoms while posted in Cuba are suing their government for millions. The US State Department expanded a health alert there after a series of alleged acoustic incidents left diplomatic personnel suffering injuries similar to those in Cuba


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