Traumatic Stress Affects Brains Of Boys And Girls In Different Ways

Posted: Nov 12 2016, 1:31am CST | by , Updated: Nov 12 2016, 1:38am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Traumatic Stress Affects Brains of Boys and Girls in Different Ways
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New research suggests that highly stressful events cause structural changes in the brains of girls

Highly stressful events that disrupt our normal modes and throws off our mental and physical equilibrium such as natural disaster, accident, plane crash, terrorist attack are hard to get over. Everyone struggles to deal with the stress reaction that is triggered by a terrifying event. But a new research suggests that different sexes responds to traumatic stress in different manner.

A part of the brain that is linked to emotions and empathy has shown structural differences between adolescent boys and girls suffering from trauma. This could explain why girls are more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than boys.

"The insula appears to play a key role in the development of PTSD," said co-author, Victor Carrion, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Universiyt. "The difference we saw between the brains of boys and girls who have experienced psychological trauma is important because it may help explain differences in trauma symptoms between sexes.”

Most people forget horrific experiences with time. But in many other people traumatic experience set off a reaction that can last for months or years. It is known as PTSD. People with PSTD find themselves re-living the event again and again as they may experience flashbacks of traumatic event or nightmares when they are asleep. The condition can lead to more complex psychological and emotional responses like withdrawal from society or difficulty in sleep or concentration.

To determine whether traumatic stress has a different impact on boys and girls, researchers scanned the brains of 59 teens who had suffered trauma and compared their results with a group without any trauma symptoms. All the participants were aged 9 to 17 and also had similar IQs.

Researchers found no difference in brain structure between boys and girls with no trauma symptoms. However, among traumatized boys and girls, they observed differences in one part of insula called anterior circular sulcus. This brain region had larger volume and surface area in traumatized boys than in boys in the control group whereas in girls with trauma, the region's volume and surface area were smaller than the girls in the control group.

The findings of the study could help scientists understand how trauma can play different roles in different sexes – a thing which was observed previously but could not properly understood and therefore explained.

“It is important that people who work with traumatized youth consider the sex differences," said lead author Megan Klabunde, an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “Our findings suggest it is possible that boys and girls could exhibit different trauma symptoms and that they might benefit from different approaches to treatment.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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