Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder characterized by symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, issues with memory, difficulty concentrating, and poor decision-making abilities. With symptoms that closely resemble those of other anxiety disorders, it is very difficult to accurately diagnose. More research is needed to identify structural and functional imaging biomarkers to aid in diagnosis.
Methods: Ten right-handed male subjects (5 combat-exposed veterans, 5 healthy civilian controls) underwent magnetoencephalographic recording for this study. MEG data were acquired with a 275-channel whole-head CTF Omega 2000 system. Resting-state and tasked-based (Stroop Color-Naming Task) data were acquired. Voxel-based time-frequency analysis was subsequently performed using NUTMEG and SPM8.
Results: Significant differences were found between the two groups at rest (in delta, theta, gamma, and high-gamma neural oscillatory frequency bands) and during the Stroop Color-Naming task (in alpha, beta, and gamma, and high-gamma frequency bands).
Conclusions: Despite the small sample size, we were able to replicate some aspects of previous MEG research in veterans with PTSD. Not only does this result substantiate the use of MEG for population studies, but it also shows that PTSD is a mental disorder that is physical in nature and can be characterized through passively observing electromagnetic neuronal activity.