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Newsline: New details on US diplomat’s mysterious brain injury linked to ‘sonic attacks’

Doctors shared details about what happened to the brain of one diplomat who may be a victim of the so-called sonic attacks that have impacted dozens of people in Cuba and China. Researchers revealed the results of an independent brain analysis of Mark Lenzi, a US diplomat who was stationed in Guangzhou, China, in 2017 when he started experiencing unexplained symptoms including headache, difficulty reading, irritability, as well as memory and sleep problems. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/19/health/sonic-attack-brain-study/) Among the MRI findings: 20 brain regions with “abnormally low” volumes, including regions involved in memory, emotional regulation and motor skills that may correlate with Lenzi’s symptoms, doctors said. Of the 107 regions they looked at, they also found three that had bigger volumes. They said the parts of the brain with low volume may reflect brain injury, and those with high volumes could be evidence that other parts of his brain have compensated. These tests, however, do not reveal the cause. That remains a mystery. The “sonic attacks,” as they have come to be called, are first known to have befallen US government personnel in Havana, Cuba, starting in late 2016. The US State Department announced last year it was looking into similar events in China, expanding a health alert there. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the medical details in both locations as “very similar and entirely consistent” with each other. A study published in July also found brain variations among 40 US government personnel affected by the events in Cuba, when compared to 48 healthy adults. The variations included some measures of volume and relationships among different brain regions. However, the authors of the earlier study noted that the clinical importance of the findings was uncertain, and they didn’t have earlier MRIs of the patients to compare with what their brains looked like before the incidents. Moreover, these patterns didn’t fit a clear picture of a specific disorder, according to the authors.

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