Associations Between the Self-Reported Frequency of Hearing Chemical Alarms in Theater and Visuospatial Function in Gulf War Veterans

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between the self-reported frequencies of hearing chemical alarms during deployment and visuospatial function in Gulf War (GW) veterans.

Methods:

The relationship between the self-reported frequency of hearing chemical alarms, neurobehavioral, and volumetric brain imaging data was examined with correlational, regression, and mediation analyses.

Results:

The self-reported frequency of hearing chemical alarms was inversely associated with and significantly predicted performance on a visuospatial task (ie, Block Design) over and above potentially confounding variables, including concurrent, correlated GW-related exposures. This effect was partially mediated by the relationship between hearing chemical alarms and lateral occipital cortex volume.

Conclusions:

Exposure to substances that triggered chemical alarms during GW deployment likely had adverse effects on veterans’ brain structure and function, warranting further investigation of whether these GW veterans are at an increased risk for dementia.

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