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Interactive Software Helps Veterans Suffering from PTSD


Interactive Software Helps Veterans Suffering from PTSD

Annual UCSF 'Brain at War' Symposium Highlights Digital Tools in Mental Health Care

Digital tools can be an easily accessible and effective way of treating veterans who suffer from brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.

For brains rattled by war, UC San Francisco scientists are advancing research and clinical care with new software, apps and online tools to help "retrain the brain" for resilience and recovery.

UCSF researchers affiliated with the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC) discussed these new tools at the 2013 "Brain at War" symposium, convened June 20 in downtown San Francisco. The symposium - hosted by the Veteran's Health Research Institute (NCIRE), a leading nonprofit research institute devoted to advancing veterans-health research - was the sixth annual meeting of the national conference, which focuses on the neurological and psychological wounds of war.

UCSF researchers for years have been leaders in identifying and exploring the mechanisms of brain trauma and posttraumatic stress, and are at the leading edge in exploring new treatment strategies for these chronic afflictions.

Mental Training Through a Computer Game

It used to be thought that the brain's wiring scheme - its nerve circuits - did not change appreciably in adults.

But scientific evidence now shows that connections within nerve circuits can in fact become stronger or weaker with time to reflect new experiences, favoring the flow of signals through new and different pathways. For instance, in one seminal study, a memory-associated brain region called the hippocampus grew larger in London cabbies after they trained to learn the city's streets.

Signaling through nerve circuits connecting different parts of the brain underlies all of our thoughts, emotions and memories. The possibility of influencing the brain to reconfigure itself in beneficial ways is a major motivation behind the research of Sophia Vinogradov, MD, a UCSF professor of psychiatry and chief of the mental health service at the SFVAMC.

Vinogradov has focused her research on schizophrenia, which causes people to have diminished cognitive functioning, including a diminished ability to process verbal and other auditory information normally.

References and further information

The original article was produced by The University of California, San Francisco.  


To read the rest of this article visit the University of California, San Francisco website


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