Stress of Japanese Tsunami has caused brains to shrink

According to a new study conducted by researchers at Tohoku University some survivors of the Japanese Tsunami which occurred on March the 11 2011 suffered such emotional trauma that physical shrinkage was visible in certain parts of their brains.

The researchers used neuroimaging technology to establish how witnessing such natural disasters affected the physiology and function of the brain.
Those individuals who reported suffering from Post traumatic Stress Disorder with symptoms including hyperarousal, flashbacks, insomnia, emotional avoidance and memory problems showed that the area of the brain known to be involved in decision making and the regulation of emotions known as the orbito-frontal cortex had significantly reduced in size.

The study included 42 healthy adolescents who lived in the tsunami-hit area of Sendai in northeast Japan. Each of the adolescents had undergone brain scans for completely unrelated reasons in the two years preceding the natural disaster.

The results published in the Molecular Psychiatry, a Nature journal saw that as the severity of symptoms of PTSD increased so too did the amount of shrinkage in the orbito-frontal cortex. The stress and severity of the event was correlated with the amount of physical damage that subsequently occurred in the brain.

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