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New efforts to understand exactly how posttraumatic stress disorder affects the brain could reshape treatment for military veterans
Deep inside a Boston VA hospital, about two miles south of Fenway Park, four gray freezers are set at a constant temperature of –80°C. The chill protects the precious contents: samples donated to the nation’s first ever brain bank for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There, scientists will dissect the brain tissues by shaving some into translucent slices resembling the pickled ginger served with sushi and turning others into chemical soups. Then they will become fodder for researchers trying to better understand what exactly goes wrong—at the cellular level—in the brains of people saddled with trauma.
The payoff could be immense. As many as 500,000 U.S. troops who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past …