Gulf War Illness Linked to Memory Problems in Veterans

02 Nov 2013
A new study released by the University Of Texas finds that veterans, who suffer from Gulf War Illness, may also suffer from memory problems. Gulf War Illness is the name given to the syndrome that originated after the Persian Gulf War.

The syndrome is linked to exposure to a number of chemicals, including sarin nerve gas. It is estimated that as many as a quarter of all military personnel who served in the Persian Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, suffered from some form of Gulf War Illness.

As part of their study, the researchers put several veterans who suffered from Gulf War Illness through functional MRIs. They were also given memory tests to perform. The researchers found that compared to veterans who were healthy and had no symptoms of Gulf War Illness, veterans with Gulf War Illness took much more time to complete the memory tasks. The results were also less likely to be accurate, compared to the group that had no symptoms of the condition.

The researchers also found that the symptoms of the condition actually seemed to increase as the intensity of the tasks increased. The performance of veterans who suffered from the symptoms declined when the demands on their memory increased.

When these weapons were given more difficult memory tasks to perform, functional MRIs found that there was less activity in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. According to the researchers, this reduced functioning in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain could indicate that veterans, who suffered from Gulf War Illness, have a much lower ability to make use of their complex thinking functions.