"The areas implicated in the patients' brains, namely the cerebellum as well as the visuospatial and auditory networks, align with the neurological symptoms that were observed in the patients," said lead author Ragini Verma, PhD, a professor of Radiology and head of the DiCIPHR (Diffusion and Connectomics in Precision Healthcare Research) imaging lab at Penn. "These differences persisted even when people with some history of brain injury were excluded from the analysis."
In 2016, U.S. government personnel serving in Havana, Cuba, and their family members began to report a variety of neurological symptoms, including difficulty with concentration and memory, dizziness, visual issues, and balance problems. The symptoms were linked to sudden, intensely loud noises heard in their homes and hotel rooms, which State Department officials later referred to as a "sonic attack" or "directional phenomena," though the specifics of the alleged event remain unsolved. After initial examinations, the patients were sent to Penn's Center for Brain Injury and Repair for evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation in the summer of 2017, under the direction of center director and study co-author Douglas H. Smith, MD, the Robert A. Groff Professor of Teaching and Research in Neurosurgery.
JAMA - Report - Penn - Researchers - Symptoms
A 2018 JAMA report published by Penn researchers documented the neurological symptoms that 21 patients who had reported exposure to the mysterious phenomena in Cuba experienced. Summing up these findings, Smith said that the symptoms were, "similar to those found in persistent concussion syndrome, yet there was no evidence of blunt head trauma."
As part of the investigation into their signs and symptoms, the patients also underwent advanced neuroimaging with multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at Penn, prior to receiving any comprehensive rehabilitation treatment. This retrospective analysis compared the brain images of 40 potentially-exposed personnel to 48 healthy individuals who were not exposed and did not demonstrate these signs and...
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