Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Research Proposal
Bryler Barnhill

Experimental Question: What happens to the brain during a traumatic event that can cause
PTSD to occur?

Post Traumatic Stress disorder has been researched more frequently due to the
outcomes of the service members from the War on Terror. Currently there has been quite a lot of
research on PTSD and its effects. PTSD is the stress response due to significant traumatic
event. This can cause long lasting effects in different parts of the brain including the
hippocampus, amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex. People with PTSD are more likely to
experience memory difficulties, an effect happening in the hippocampus as it is responsible for
the storage of memories. Being constantly exposed to stress can cause the hippocampus to be
damaged. The body will release dangerous hormones leading to the damage of cells in the
For my research I will be looking at stresss effects on the hippocampus, amygdala and
prefrontal cortex. Researching PTSD is very important, there are nearly three hundred thousand
American veterans who suffer from it (Face the Facts USA, 2013). Researching PTSD in the
brain will help us better understand it so that we can start to find ways to help people with it.
Finding treatment options that work we will be able to better help those who have helped us as
a country by so much. Not only will it help veterans it will also help those that have been in
serious traumatic events that caused PTSD.

The cause of this is actually directly correlated with introduction to an event that causes
the person to be traumatized in some way. The bodys response to stress is changed in some
ways drastically and minimally due to hormones and chemicals in the brain being changed.
Specific opioid receptor in the brain has been identified as a link to emotion and can be
associated with certain symptoms of PTSD. The symptoms being flashbacks, causing increase
in heart rate, sweat, headaches and can cause pain in other places of the body, paranoia when
it comes to certain places and being scared or startled easily. Of course the symptoms vary on a
case by case basis according to the individual with PTSD.
Currently the only treatment options that exist are mostly psychiatric based. The
medication prescribed doesnt treat PTSD, it treats side effects related to it like depression and
anxiety. There is current research going on to open up the amount of treatment options
available to a patient similar to how cancer is given many different treatment options. Being able
to link different symptoms of PTSD to parts of the brain will help the development of treatment
options advance. A study recently conducted with help from the National Institute of Mental
Health had the researchers look at healthy scans of brains and compare it to people diagnosed
with PTSD, depression and anxiety disorders. This will help with the development of treatment
options as it will help narrow down what part of the brain is affected in certain areas of stress
with PTSD. Cortisol, a steroid hormone, is linked to being an indicator of certain types of PTSD
symptoms. In the study theyre using returning veterans to explore their psychiatric condition
with brain imaging. A protein is used during this process that binds to opioid receptors to see
what sticks out during the tests. The development of PTSD is still quite unknown as it can
happen to some after stressful traumatic situations (car crash, family event, combat) but will not
be triggered in some.

Model Organism:

The best model organism for my experimental question would be to test on animals,
(rats). Studies have found that using animals in stress inducing environments will allow you to
see which areas of the brain are most affected when using brain imaging. Being able to see the
stress in different situations would help with the connection from stress to PTSD. Using animals
with PTSD related experiences has already given us a lot of information regarding where the
brain is affected, so using them to test the initial start of the stress could be very important to the
study. After that study is done, surveying a group of humans would need to be done in order to
really understand PTSD as they are having a first hand experience with it. It would be ethical
because they would all be consenting adults, being asked questions they are comfortable with.

Experimental Technique:
In order to test how PTSD is developed we need to use brain imaging techniques found
using SPECT Tc-99m HMPAO. SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computed
Tomography with Tc-99m HMPAO being a type of radiopharmaceutical. Will use this technique
on animals, (rats) during events, like putting the rats into an unfamiliar areas with different
environments, which will cause the rats to have stress or be more prone to experience it. Find
out where the stress is located and record the different stages it happens in. Use about ten to
twenty rats in order to get accurate results retaining to the stress that is induced. From there we
would find the initial start of where the stress comes from. Recording the data from which it
starts and when it ends. Finding the relation from the start of the stress induced event from to
when the PTSD is actually developed could take a while. Most people who have PTSD develop
it sometime after the event itself. The next step in the test would to be actually survey a group of
people who experience PTSD with their permission as it may be hard for them to talk about. If
you take a group of US veterans, victims of rape, car crash victims and other traumatic event
victims and survey how long they think it took before they started to feel the symptoms of having
PTSD. Some may answer almost immediately after and some may say that it took a while for

them to start experiencing the symptoms. Doing this will help us see the relation between
certain events, timeline of when the PTSD occurred and the level of pain they experience from
the symptoms. Then scan the brains of the individuals being surveyed to see the differences
between the areas of stress in the individuals. This will help us see the way different brains react
to various situations, helping in the long run of finding an actual way to treat the disorder.

Societal and Ethical Impacts:

My study will be very beneficial to PTSD research as a whole because it will help with
finding suitable treatment options for patients. It can help with overall research of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder while also helping with research for developing pharmaceutical
treatments. As the study will be done with real PTSD patients there may be some concern for
the ethical impact upon them. They will all be asked to confirm that they want to partake in the
study as well as permission from family members. Scanning their brain will all be done with their
consent to allow full ethical responsibility. This study will hopefully open up the opportunity to
learn more about brain disorders and specifically PTSD. If the study is done successfully and
valuable information is pulled from it then it will give more reasons why scientific studies on the
brain should be done more often. The overall impact of the study should help with treating
PTSD patients by branching out research on brain disorders, how theyre developed and can
ultimately be treated.

Tremendous job, Bryler! Youve done such great work on this project, lots of good research and
good experiment ideas.

PhD, R. (2015). Is PTSD a Brain Disease?. Psych Central.com. Retrieved 5 March 2015, from

Hull, Alastair M. "Neuroimaging findings in post-traumatic stress disorder Systematic review."

The British Journal of Psychiatry 181.2 (2002): 102-110. Retrieved from

Juni, J., & Waxman, A. (1999). Society of Nuclear Medicine Procedure Guideline for Brain
Perfusion Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) Using Tc-99m
Radiopharmaceuticals. SNM, 2.0, 6. Retrieved from

Bremner, J. (2007). Neuroimaging in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Other Stress-Related

Disorders. Neuroimaging Clinics Of North America, 17(4), 523-538.
KARL, A et al. 'A Meta-Analysis Of Structural Brain Abnormalities In PTSD'. Neuroscience &
Biobehavioral Reviews 30.7 (2006): 1004-1031. Web.
Facethefactsusa.org,. 'FACT: 1 In 5 Veterans Of Iraq & Afghanistan Wars Diagnosed With
PTSD'. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.