Our group has also been actively involved in MRI studies of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These studies have been undertaken in collaboration with researchers in Israel (Dr. Arieh Shalev) and at the Manchester, NH Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr. Mark Gilbertson) and Dr. Roger Pitman who is now at Massachusetts General Hospital. Quantitative volumetric MRI techniques have been used to explore neuroanatomical correlates of chronic, combat-related PTSD. One study reported diminished left and right hippocampal volume in PTSD Vietnam combat veterans (see Gurvits et al., 1996). Moreover, these volume reductions were associated with severity of combat exposure, suggesting that the severe stress of military combat both damages the hippocampus and is associated with and PTSD. A similar study was undertaken with Gulf war veterans in Israel, and these data are have shown similar findings (Bonne et al., 2001).
We plan to continue to use imaging tools to increase the precision of brain measurements, an important factor in studying disorders such as schizophrenia and PTSD where the differences from controls are quite small and subtle.