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Study finds changes in the brain of Cuban diplomats, but no signs of attack



The study involved 40 Cuba-based government employees undergoing advanced brain imaging. A group of 48 healthy patients was used as a control. Compared to the control group, the brains of Cuban patients showed significant differences in brain volume and connectivity. There was less white matter in the affected patients. In particular, the cerebellum ̵

1; the region of the brain responsible for the executive function – was affected by changes in tissue volume.

"The areas involved in the patient's brain, the cerebellum and the visuospatial and auditory networks, are consistent with the neurological symptoms that were observed in the patients," said lead author Ragini Verma, PhD, professor of radiology and head of Imaging Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania. Verma said the changes were evident even after scientists ruled out the results of patients with a history of brain injury.

Nonetheless, external scientists have expressed doubts about the study; arguing that his techniques are far from being disguised with iron. First and foremost, the imaging methods used on patients should not find any disease, said neuroscientist Douglas Fields to Gizmodo . In an editorial, JAMA senior editor Christopher Muth and executive editor Phil Fontanarosa admitted that the paper did not provide clear evidence of impairment. "Despite differences in data for advanced imaging between patients and controls reported in this study, the clinical relevance of these differences is uncertain, and the exact nature of possible exposure and underlying etiology of patient symptoms is still unclear." they write.

The study is a continuation of a smaller study conducted by the team in 2016 with a group of 20 diplomats that concluded that there was evidence of neurological injury. This work was confronted by the rest of the scientific community with some counter-reactions. Three years later, the puzzle about Havana syndrome still does not seem to be solved. Given the difficulties scientists have in studying the phenomenon, it is probably best if the average person does not come to unlikely conclusions.


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