US diplomats exposed to & # 39; sonic attack & # 39; in Cuba HAVE suffered brain damage, finds new study

US diplomats who were the victims of a suspected & # 39; sonic attack & # 39; in Cuba, according to new research, have actually suffered brain damage.


Speculations about the cause of their mysterious headache, nausea and hearing loss range from a weapon that emits microwaves to the sound of mating insects.

But researchers at Penn State University say they have discovered signs of brain changes that suggest something was going on sinisterly.

By analyzing the brain scans of 40 diplomats, the team identified differences in the gray mass compared to healthy individuals.

In particular, an area known as the cerebellum was hit, which is responsible for performing voluntary tasks such as walking and writing.

According to the team, the patterns do not resemble X-rays of another condition, such as concussion and traumatic brain injury.

In 2016, US government employees in Havana and their family members began to report various neurological problems


In 2016, US government employees in Havana and their family members began to report various neurological problems

"The findings of the cerebellum in this neuroimaging study are remarkable, since a number of the patients evaluated showed abnormalities in balance and the coordinated movement of the eyes, both of which are associated with cerebellar dysfunction in the brain," said co-author Dr. . Randel Swanson, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Penn.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Smith, another co-author, added: & # 39; These findings may represent something that has not been seen before. & # 39;

This article, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the last episode in a mystery that has been dragged away for three years.

In 2016, US government employees in Havana and their family members began to report various neurological problems.

These include problems with concentration and memory, dizziness, visual problems and balance. They were associated with sudden, intense loud noises heard in their homes and hotel rooms.

To this day, it is not clear what happened. But these are some of the theories that we have gone through:

  • In the beginning there were reports of a drone, which were later rejected.
  • Scientists then said that the high sound that the diplomats all described was probably the sound of male crickets singing loudly during courtship.
  • Subsequently, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs threw an explosive theory: it had a & # 39; sonic attack & # 39; can be. No investigation team excluded the idea that the diplomats were being attacked, but no one found definitive evidence. The audio recording had no characteristics of a sonic weapon as previously suggested.
  • The first official report, also published in JAMA by Penn State University, suggested that it & # 39; mass hysteria & # 39; could be
  • A paper published by the University of Miami, whose team examined 25 of the diplomats, said it was not a hysteria; that it seemed slimmer.

The majority of the follow-up research was conducted at Penn's Center for Brain Injury and Repair, where diplomats were sent for evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation in the summer of 2017, under the direction of Dr. Ir. Smith.

In his first analysis of their symptoms last year, Dr. Smith described them as & # 39; similar to those found in persistent concussion, but there was no evidence of blunt head trauma & # 39 ;.

As part of the investigation of their signs and symptoms, patients also underwent advanced form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before receiving comprehensive rehabilitation treatment.

The latest study links the host of neurological symptoms for the first time to changes in people's brains.

Main author Dr. Ragini Verma, a radiologist, said: “The areas involved in the patients' brains, namely the cerebellum and the visuospatial and auditory networks, correspond to the neurological symptoms observed in the patients.


& # 39; These differences persisted even when people with a history of brain injury were excluded from the analysis. & # 39;

This retrospective analysis compared the brain scans of 40 potentially exposed personnel with 48 healthy individuals who had not been exposed and did not show these signs and symptoms.

It turned out that the first had less white matter that connects brain cells, along with differences in water diffusion levels in the tissue.

The imaging also revealed a lower functional connectivity in the visuospatial and auditory subnetworks.

Dr. Verma compared the brain with a highway system. Structural MRI provides information about the size of the roads, while diffusion imaging provides insight into the road conditions and how they are connected.


A brain injury can contribute to a deterioration of the condition of the roads, reflected in white dust differences, leading to an alternative traffic pattern or changed functional connectivity.

So a multimodal examination is essential to see a more complete picture of the injury, Dr. Said said. Verma.

While the brain recovers while the traffic pattern can return to normal, the excessive use of some roads can lead to wear or compensatory changes in the brain.

Dr. Verma added: & # 39; It's hard to say where the problem started; the observed brain differences can be an immediate effect of the brain injury or a compensating effect of the recovery process.

& # 39; It is very difficult to say, especially with a retrospective, heterogeneous study, where people were admitted at different times after potential exposure.


& # 39; Most importantly, we have seen differences at group level. & # 39;

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