With recently discharged veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as our subjects, this study examines the neuroanatomical underpinnings as well as cognitive and perceptual biases associated with the progression of early onset Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We are comparing the efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; treatment) to Supportive Therapy (ST; control) as early interventions in mediating the neurological and psychological changes in the mind-body which act to exacerbate the course of disease development into becoming chronic and thereby treatment resistant. This is the first study looking at the applications of MBSR as an application of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) with OIF veterans providing us with a unique opportunity to do so. Using participants (n=30) who reflect the racial/gender makeup of Georgia active duty military personnel, we are conducting several different psychometric assessments of behavior, hormonal, and neuropsychology, measuring the impact of MBSR vs. ST on the following at pre- and post-intervention levels: 1) the course of PTSD symtomology, 2) verbal declarative memory function, and 3) constructs of mindfulness, spirituality, and anxiety. In addition, imaging methods are also being conducted both at pre- and post-intervention, including MRI scans to assess hippocampal volume with declarative memory function along with PET scans to assess neural circuits shown previously to be associated with PTSD. Given that data collection proceeded in earnest for the first time in March 2007, we are unable to provide preliminary results or general conclusions at this time.

Sandra DiVitale

Emory University School of Medicine