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Scanning the brain of US Embassy staff in Cuba can show deviations in science

The brain scan of US Embassy staff who were ill-intelligent while serving in Cuba found potential anomalies that may be related to their symptoms. their deployment in Havana revealed that the specific functions of the brain appear to be different from those of healthy volunteers. They also showed microstructural differences and other changes that could affect visual and spatial spatial processing, but the medical team who performed the scan said the findings were not convincing. They do not coincide with what is usually observed in brain damage, and the severity of the symptoms does not vary depending on the degree of observed brain differences. "This is a unique presentation we have not seen before," said Ragini Verma, a professor. of biomedical images in the team of the University of Pennsylvania. "What caused him?" I can not answer the question completely. "

Independent experts agree that the findings are inconclusive and state that it is still unclear whether diplomats have been victims of attacks or have suffered related brain injuries. Obvious anomalies may have preceded attacks, they say, and could have more common explanations such as anxiety or depression. One says the survey does not meet the usual publishing standards.

Dozens of staff at the US embassy in Havana have been treated for a number of medical complaints of headaches, dizziness and sleep problems, concentration, balance, vision, and waves of illness that hit staff and their families between the end of 201

6 and May 2018

Many describe how they get sick in their homes or in the hotels after they hear penetrating sounds described differently as milling, cycling-like twitches or noise caused by window openings in a car that spark speculation that diploma have been the victims of an acoustic attack.

While the US government drew half of its Havana staff, issued a travel alert and evicted more than a dozen Cubans for the incident, the sound weapon theory was largely discredited when the FBI found no evidence of such an attack, and the scientists combined an audio recording the disturbing sound with the call of the Indians with a short-head cket. However, the prospect of another type of mysterious weapon is not reduced.

The brain scan continues with medical tests that doctors from the University of Pennsylvania published last year. These tests concluded that American staff suffered brain damage, similar to a concussion, but the findings are heavily criticized by neuroscientists and other brain professionals who describe the main shortcomings in the work.

The latest study, published in the Journal of the American Physicians, compared the brain scan taken by US officials after they got ill by scanning from two control groups of healthy individuals. Employees of the US Embassy had less white matter, on average 542cc compared to 569cc in controls. They also had evidence of reduced connectivity in brain subnets that process sound and vision.

Further scanning looks for problems at the microscopic level. When the brain is injured and the nerve cells die, damage can occur in scanners that measure how water spreads around the brain. More damage tends to increase diffusion as there are fewer nerve structures that lead the water. This also reduces the tendency for water to flow in certain directions, a measure called fractional anisotropy, as the nerve fibers that normally channel the flow have deteriorated. 19659002] Here the results were confused. The brains of diplomats have shown the opposite of what is seen with brain damage. Rather than rising, diffusion falls into a region called a vermity that processes visual and auditory signals. And instead of falling, fractional anisotropy in the region is growing. Verma suspects that the results are due to a drop in water content in the brains of diplomats but acknowledges that this is speculation. "So far, we can say something has happened and these people have to be followed by more images," she said.

Paul Matthews, Head of the Brain Sciences at Imperial College London, was not impressed by the work and pointed out. a number of important shortcomings. "This document does not meet the usual publishing standards, especially in high profile magazines, if it was not the up-to-date findings," he said.

"The differences are small, they do not correspond to known patterns of brain damage and can not be shown to have changed in humans before and after exposure," Matthews said. "It may be inferred from the presentation: does it suggest , that people who were susceptible to symptoms were more likely to have brains with these characteristics from the beginning, or did they have any unknown – and difficult to conceive – effect of the "targeting phenomenon" that changed their minds? unauthorized. "

Heidi Johansen-Berg, Director of the Wellcome Center for an integrative neuroprotection at Oxford University, said differences in patients' brains are unclear, it is impossible to say whether they are related to a specific event, the exact picture of changes is difficult to explain, and it is unclear whether or how they are related with the symptoms of patients, she said, "This is an important study given how little is known about the exposure these people would experience, but the uniqueness of exposure and population makes it impossible to get clear answers if the potential exposure heading alter the brain, "she said.

London was just as cautious. "Considering what we know about functional specialization in the brain, significant correlations can be expected between the severity of specific deficits and the degree of change in the brain regions that mediate specific functions. For example, if there are subjects with severe memory impairment, a connection with changes in the hippocampus may be expected. The report is silent on this issue, "he said. "I'll take the conclusions with a pinch of salt." the data will be of higher quality. "A further research study, not clinical scans and some additional controls, is something that would be useful as a next step to continue trying to get to the bottom of it."

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