Neuropsychological function in Gulf War veterans: relationships to self-reported toxicant exposures

Authors

  • Roberta F. White PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. VA Boston Healthcare System, Psychology Department, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    4. Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Boston, Massachusetts
    5. Boston University, Department of Psychology, Boston, Massachusetts
    6. University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    • Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, 150 South Huntington Avenue (116B-4), Boston, MA 02130.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Susan P. Proctor DSc,

    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Timothy Heeren PhD,

    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jessica Wolfe PhD,

    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. VA Boston Healthcare System, Psychology Department, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Boston, Massachusetts
    4. Boston University, Department of Psychology, Boston, Massachusetts
    5. Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Maxine Krengel PhD,

    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. VA Boston Healthcare System, Psychology Department, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jennifer Vasterling PhD,

    1. New Orleans DVAMC, New Orleans, Louisiana
    2. Tulane University, School of Medicine (Psychiatry and Neurology), New Orleans, Louisiana
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Karen Lindem PhD,

    1. VA Boston Healthcare System, Psychology Department, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kristin J. Heaton MS,

    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Patricia Sutker PhD,

    1. New Orleans DVAMC, New Orleans, Louisiana
    Search for more papers by this author
  • David M. Ozonoff MD, MPH

    1. Boston Environmental Hazards Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. VA Boston Healthcare System, Medical Service, Boston, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Background

The present study was aimed at (1) exploring evidence of central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction among Gulf War (GW) veterans on neuropsychological tests and (2) examining whether performance on neuropsychological tests was related to specific neurotoxicant exposures experienced in the Gulf.

Methods

The GW-deployed groups were selected using stratified random sampling methods from two distinct cohorts of GW veterans. A comparison group that had been called up for GW service but deployed to Germany rather than the Gulf also was examined. Neuropsychological function was assessed using a pre-determined battery chosen to include tests known to be highly sensitive to the behavioral effects of the neurotoxicants thought to have been present in the Gulf.

Results

Self-reported exposures were related to neuropsychological test performance controlling for post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and other known covariates of neuropsychological test performance. Results showed that GW-deployed veterans performed more poorly than the Germany-deployed veterans on several specific neuropsychological tests, but after adjustment for multiple comparisons, only the differences in mood complaints remained significant. Within the GW-deployed group, self-reported exposure to chemical warfare agents was associated with poorer performance on cognitive tests involving specific functional domains.

Conclusions

Results provide evidence that there are subtle differences in CNS function among GW-deployed veterans who report chemical warfare agent exposure while in the GW theater. Am. J. Ind. Med. 40:42–54, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary