A Magnetoencephalographic (MEG) Study of Gulf War Illness (GWI)

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18 Scopus citations


Background Gulf War Illness (GWI) has affected many Gulf War veterans. It involves several organs, most notably the brain. Neurological-cognitive-mood-related symptoms frequently dominate and are at the root of chronic ill-health and disability in GWI. Here we investigated the neural mechanisms underlying brain dysfunction in GWI in the absence of mental health disorders. Methods Eighty-six veterans completed diagnostic interviews to establish the presence of GWI and assess mental health status. Participants diagnosed with GWI met both Center for Disease Control and Kansas criteria. We studied 46 healthy controls and 40 veterans with GWI without mental illness. They all underwent a resting-state magnetoencephalographic (MEG) scan to assess brain communication based on synchronous neural interactions (SNI; Georgopoulos et al., 2007). Findings We found substantial differences in SNI between control and GWI groups centered on the cerebellum and frontal cortex. In addition, using the maxima and minima of SNI per sensor as predictors, we successfully classified 94.2% of the 86 participants (95% sensitivity, 93.5% specificity). Interpretation These findings document distinct differences in brain function between control and GWI in the absence of mental health comorbidities, differences that are excellent predictors of GWI. Funding U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and University of Minnesota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by a service directed grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs . The contents do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

Funding Information:
Partial funding for this study was provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of Minnesota (American Legion Brain Sciences Chair to APG). The sponsors had no role in the current study design, analysis or interpretation, or in the writing of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016


  • Brain areas
  • Cerebellum
  • Gulf War Illness (GWI)
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Veterans


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