University Park, Pa. October 26, 2006 - A series of studies, conducted by a psychotraumatology research group headed by Thomas Elbert in collaboration with Penn State psychologist William Ray, has examined a group of people who have been exposed to different magnitudes of torture and found the appearance of dissociation (mental separation from the incident) long after the event. The research is published in the latest issue of Psychological Science.
Those who experienced multiple and extreme trauma stopped responding physiologically and began to feel numb. The researchers believe that, just as the body can turn off some of its stress response during feelings of great terror or helplessness, the mind has a way of turning off strong emotions in overwhelming situations.
The research group examined the functional architecture of the brain in relation to varying degrees of dissociation. They observed that dissociative experiences are reflected in slow, abnormal brainwaves in an area that contributes to verbalizing and the ability to plan and prepare for actions.
Observation of structural or functional brain lesions has led the authors to interpret their findings as a sign of the brain decoupling these regions from sensory experience and action. They believe this is the only response that seems possible during serious torture but note that, when maintained later in life, the long-term consequences are devastating. This brain reorganization is maintained even when the torture is over.
This study is published in the current issue of Psychological Science. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact email@example.com
William J. Ray is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Penn State University. He can be contacted for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a citation ranking/impact factor placing it in the top ten psychology journals worldwide, Psychological Science is a leader in the field. The flagship journal of The Association for Psychological Science (previously the American Psychological Society), the journal publishes authoritative articles of interest across all of psychological science, including brain and behavior, clinical science, cognition, learning and memory, social psychology, and developmental psychology. In addition to these full-length articles, Psychological Science also features summaries of new research developments and discussions of psychological issues in government and public affairs. Psychological Science is published twelve times a year. For more information, please visit: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/psci
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and, to date, has published more than 6,000 books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects. For more information, please visit: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.