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Cognitive Function and Symptom Patterns in Gulf War Veterans

In November 1997, CDC funded a study by the Boston University School of Public Health to examine potential reasons for the memory and thinking problems reported by Gulf War veterans. In one component of this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine possible differences in brain activation patterns within specific areas of the brain. Gulf War veterans and their nondeployed peers with differing levels of symptoms were compared. In another component of this study, Danish armed forces personnel were tested to determine whether they are experiencing the same types of memory and thinking problems reported by U.S. troops who participated in the Gulf War. The Danish troops were also asked about any symptoms that they may be experiencing. Both Danish troops who participated in the Gulf War and troops who were not deployed to the Gulf War were tested. The results will be compared with results from a group of U.S. Gulf War veterans that the Boston University School of Public Health and the Boston VA Medical Center have been following since they returned from the Gulf War. Findings have been published regarding the neuropsychological functioning of the Danish Gulf War troops. No significant differences in neuropsychological test performances were found between the Gulf War-deployed and non-Gulf War-deployed groups. Danish troops deployed to the Gulf War reported significantly more mood complaints (i.e., fatigue and confusion) than their nondeployed counterparts. Publications are still pending for the fMRI component of this study.


Proctor SP, White RF, Heeren T, Debes F, Gloerfelt-Tarp B, Appleyard M, Ishoy T, Guldager B, Suadicani P, Gyntelberg F, Ozonoff D. Neuropsychological functioning in Danish Gulf War veterans. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 2003; 25:85–94.