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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017


Scientists: Observing Fear in Others May Change Brain

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists say observing trauma has implications

“Negative emotional experience leaves a trace in the brain, which makes us more vulnerable,” said Alexei Morozov, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and lead author of the study. “Traumatic experiences, even those without physical pain, are a risk factor for mental disorders.” Post-traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop in some people after they experience a shocking, scary or dangerous event, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Most people who live through dangerous events do not develop the disorder, but about seven or eight our of every 100 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD. “PTSD doesn’t stop at direct victims of illness, injury or a terrorist attack; it can also affect their loved ones, caregivers, even bystanders – the people who witness or learn about others’ suffering,” said Morozov, who is also a faculty member in the Department of BIomedical Engineering and Mechanics in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

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