Researchers in a Variety of Health

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Researchers in a variety of health and neurological groups came together to study the affects of PTSD in women. PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that involves people who have experienced a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, an accident, a terrorist act, war, rape or other violent attacks. Following the onset of PTSD, it is suggested that individuals exhibit memory bias. Memory bias is a bias either enhances or impairs the recall of a memory or may alter the content of a memory that is stored.

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The researchers chose to focus on a group of 46 Japanese women who had clinically diagnosed with PTSD and compared them with 68 healthy controls. Previous studies have shown that neurogenesis in the hippocampus is involved with forgetting fear memories. This led to the assumption that compromised memory function seen in PTSD patients can be due to a result of impaired hippocampal functions. They hypothesized that PTSD patients would show and is correlated to a negative memory bias leading to poor memory functions.

To test for memory bias, researchers presented the women with a recognition memory task. This task was separated into two phases that encompassed an encoding phase and a delayed-recognition-test phase. During the encoding phase, the participants were presented with a list of words that showed one at a time. While viewing the list, they were required to read each word, out loud, to ensure attention was kept and an attempt at memorizing was done. Following, the participants were presented a set of words, in a random order, during the second phase.

They were tasked to read each one and judge whether the word was new or old (previously shown or not shown in the encoding phase). To calculate a negative bias, scores from the hit and miss rates for neutral items were subtracted from those for negative words. Similarly, a positive bias score was calculated.

Next, participants were given a neuropsychological test known as RBANS. This test was given to assess cognitive functions such as immediate memory, visual spatial construction, language, attention, and delayed memory. Lastly, participants were given the Japanese Adult Reading Test (JART) to assess premorbid IQ. After collecting data from all 3 tests, scientists uses statistical tools such as standard deviation and t-test to compare the two groups and determine whether the differences were statistically significant or not. They discovered that compared to the control group, patients that exhibited depression and anxiety performed poorer on RBANS and on JART and this was proven to be statistically significant with a p-value of less than .05.

Concerning the recognition memory task, in terms of positive bias, the two groups were not statistically significant, however, for negative bias it was, meaning patients had a greater negative bias than the controls. While patients showed a negative bias, when asked about important parts of the trauma, they were unable to answer. This shows that PTSD patients have a greater tendency to avoid memories that are related to their trauma because of their sensitivity to these memories. The findings of these tasks show a significant correlation between memory bias and poor memory function in patients with PTSD.

The researchers then aimed to test the effects of medications on cognitive functions and memory bias. Overall, they found medications other than anxiolytics had no significant differences, while anxiolytics had only a slight significant difference.

Within this publication, the researchers did a good job of accurately and precisely depicting the methods used and results they found. In the discussion, they pointed to previous studies done to compare data and concluded that previous studies may have had a different result due to the procedure of the tasks as well as the sample size being smaller. They continued to point out implications of their study stating that while memory bias exists in patients with PTSD, it is not associated with depression nor anxiety given these are conditions found with these patients. In previous studies, it has been demonstrated that individuals with negative bias and PTSD show smaller hippocampal volumes and hyperactivation of the amygdala when exposed to traumatic stimuli.

As learned in class, the hippocampus is associated with memory and the amygdala is with emotions and fear. Thus, these findings are in realm of the roles of each of these brain structures. With these findings, along with the findings of this study it is reasonable to conclude that there is a correlation between PTSD and negative memory bias.

Finally, the researchers included a list of limitations the study contained. Firstly, while a correlation may be seen, it is not reasonable to infer the causality of negative memory bias leading to PTSD. Secondly, the research was only performed on a female population, thus it is not reasonable to conclude the same results hold for male patients. Lastly, the researchers did not use a gold-standard in diagnosing PTSD nor a more comprehensive IQ test. Even with these limitations, the correlation between negative memory bias and PTSD stands.
Overall, this was a very well concluded study that took into effect a variety of variables, while also acknowledging the variables that were not taken into effect. The researchers wrote their research paper in a well organized and in an easy to read format to allow readers to understand their research and its implications. This looks like a promising study that will, down the line, help individuals that suffer from PTSD in a more personalized manner.

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Researchers In A Variety Of Health. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved December 4, 2022 , from
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