Could a baby develop PTSD after a brain injury during birth? The answer may be yes according to a new study published by UCLA. Science Daily reported on the study.
The researchers wanted to know why PTSD developed in veterans after concussion-like injuries. They found that traumatic brain injuries can cause changes in a region of the brain responsible for fear called the amygdala.
The study was done on rats. Through surgery, brain injuries were given to one group. Simulated surgery was given to the control group. The rats were then exposed to a low level of noise followed by brief electrical shocks to the feet to frighten them.
All the rats soon associated the noise with fear, freezing up when they heard it. After a few days of treatment like this, the researchers put the rats into the testing cage but didn’t administer shocks to see the reactions.
The rats with brain injuries froze for a much longer time and showed a fear response in the brain when the noise was played. Even though the noise was small, they treated it like a shock. When studying the amygdalas of these rats, there was a five-fold increase in active neurons in the damaged rats compared to the control group. They also found that the region of the brain that processes sound also shifted to a more primitive area.
These results may be the beginning of explaining why babies with brain injuries suffer sensory sensitivities that are much like PTSD symptoms.