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Weill Cornell researchers use 'Virtual Iraq' simulation to study post-traumatic stress disorder

perience into regular conscious memory, in turn, making the triggering of intrusive traumatic memories (and other re-experiencing symptoms, like flashbacks) less likely. "Research suggests that memories formed during trauma exposure are easily cued by environmental stimuli, and memory suppression has been associated with the development, maintenance and severity of PTSD," adds Dr. Malta.

One of every 10 persons will develop PTSD during their lifetime, potentially resulting in chronic distress and debilitation. Exposure to aversive events evokes the release of stress hormones and neurotransmitters that, in animal models, have been shown to facilitate the learning of highly persistent conditioned fear associations and responses.

The study includes a diagnostic assessment of PTSD and other mental health problems, and veterans in need of treatment are provided with treatment referrals. It is open to Iraq War or Gulf War English-speaking veterans, aged 18 to 55, with and without PTSD. A total of 44 patients will be recruited throughout 2007.

The "Virtual Iraq" virtual-reality environment was developed by Dr. Albert Rizzo of the University of Southern California (USC) Creative Technologies Laboratory and Ken Graap of Virtually Better, Decatur, Ga., with funding from the U.S. Naval Research Office.


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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
14-May-2007


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