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Self-Reported Cognitive Symptoms in Military Veteran College Students

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An increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in college, primarily due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans who served on active duty since September 11, 2001. With rigorous training, active combat situations, and exposure

An increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in college, primarily due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans who served on active duty since September 11, 2001. With rigorous training, active combat situations, and exposure to unexpected situations, the veteran population is at a higher risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and depression. All of these conditions are associated with cognitive consequences, including attention deficits, working memory problems, and episodic memory impairments. Some conditions, particularly mild TBI, are not diagnosed or treated until long after the injury when the person realizes they have cognitive difficulties. Even mild cognitive problems can hinder learning in an academic setting, but there is little data on the frequency and severity of cognitive deficits in veteran college students. The current study examines self-reported cognitive symptoms in veteran students compared to civilian students and how those symptoms relate to service-related conditions. A better understanding of the pattern of self-reported symptoms will help researchers and clinicians determine the veterans who are at higher risk for cognitive and academic difficulties.

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2016-05

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Emotion recognition and traumatic brain injury

Description

Emotion recognition through facial expression plays a critical role in communication. Review of studies investigating individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and emotion recognition indicates significantly poorer performance compared to controls. The purpose of the study was to determine the

Emotion recognition through facial expression plays a critical role in communication. Review of studies investigating individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and emotion recognition indicates significantly poorer performance compared to controls. The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of different media presentation on emotion recognition in individuals with TBI, and if results differ depending on severity of TBI. Adults with and without TBI participated in the study and were assessed using the The Awareness of Social Inferences Test: Emotion Evaluation Test (TASIT:EET) and the Facial Expressions of Emotion-Stimuli and Tests (FEEST) The Ekman 60 Faces Test (E-60-FT). Results indicated that individuals with TBI perform significantly more poorly on emotion recognition tasks compared to age and education matched controls. Additionally, emotion recognition abilities greatly differ between mild and severe TBI groups, and TBI participants performed better with the static presentation compared to dynamic presentation.

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Date Created
2011

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Academic success and well-being following OEF/OIF deployment

Description

As many as one-third of OEF/OIF soldiers and combat veterans may be struggling with less visible psychological injuries. Military/veteran students may face heightened difficulties as they are not only adjusting to civilian life but also transitioning to college life. University

As many as one-third of OEF/OIF soldiers and combat veterans may be struggling with less visible psychological injuries. Military/veteran students may face heightened difficulties as they are not only adjusting to civilian life but also transitioning to college life. University administrators and staff have been charged to address their transitional needs and to promote their academic success. Despite significant influx in enrollment with the passing of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, research on OEF/OIF service members and veterans in higher education remains limited. Utilizing self-report measures, the current study examined the psychosocial functioning of 323 military/veteran students enrolled at Arizona State University who served at least one combat deployment as part of OEF/OIF. The study further investigated whether enlisting for educational benefits and utilizing campus programs/services were associated with more positive academic persistence decisions. Participants were also asked to rate ASU's programming for military/veteran students as well as suggest campus programs/services to promote their academic success. More PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and anger/aggression were found to be associated with less cultural congruity and lower perceived social support. Cultural congruity and social support were significant predictors of academic persistence decisions. Participants who reported utilizing more campus programs/services also tended to endorse more positive persistence decisions. No significant differences in persistence decisions were found between participants who enlisted in the military for education benefits and those who enlisted for non-educational reasons. Approximately two-thirds reported utilizing academic advising services and Veteran Benefits and Certifications. Library services, financial aid services, and ASU sporting events were the next most frequently utilized. More than 91% rated ASU's programming satisfactory or better. Over 71% of participants indicated that increasing recognition of their military experience would facilitate their academic success. Nearly 40% recommended a military/veteran student lounge and improvements to VA education benefits counseling. Another 30% recommended that ASU provide professional development for faculty/staff on military/veteran readjustment issues, improve the re-enrollment process following deployment/training, offer a veteran-specific orientation, and establish a department or center for military/veteran programming. Findings are discussed in light of Tinto's interactionist model of college student attrition, and implications for university mental health providers are presented.

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Date Created
2012

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Targeting astrogliosis: isolation and characterization of astrocyte specific single chain antibody fragments

Description

Specificity and affinity towards a given ligand/epitope limit target-specific delivery. Companies can spend between $500 million to $2 billion attempting to discover a new drug or therapy; a significant portion of this expense funds high-throughput screening to find the most

Specificity and affinity towards a given ligand/epitope limit target-specific delivery. Companies can spend between $500 million to $2 billion attempting to discover a new drug or therapy; a significant portion of this expense funds high-throughput screening to find the most successful target-specific compound available. A more recent addition to discovering highly specific targets is the application of phage display utilizing single chain variable fragment antibodies (scFv). The aim of this research was to employ phage display to identify pathologies related to traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly astrogliosis. A unique biopanning method against viable astrocyte cultures activated with TGF-β achieved this aim. Four scFv clones of interest showed varying relative affinities toward astrocytes. One of those four showed the ability to identify reactive astroctyes over basal astrocytes through max signal readings, while another showed a statistical significance in max signal reading toward basal astrocytes. Future studies will include further affinity characterization assays. This work contributes to the development of targeting therapeutics and diagnostics for TBI.

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Date Created
2013

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When hurt heroes do harm: collective guilt and leniency toward war-veteran transgressors

Description

Protectors who do harm are often punished more severely because their crime is perceived as a betrayal of trust. Two experiments test whether this will generalize to protectors who incur harm while serving in their protective role, and if not,

Protectors who do harm are often punished more severely because their crime is perceived as a betrayal of trust. Two experiments test whether this will generalize to protectors who incur harm while serving in their protective role, and if not, whether collective guilt for the harm they suffered provides an explanation. Study 1 tested competing hypotheses that a veteran (versus civilian) with PTSD would be punished either more harshly because of the trust betrayal, or more leniently because of increased guilt about the harm the veteran suffered during war. Men and women were both more lenient toward a veteran (versus civilian) but this effect was mediated by collective guilt only among men. In Study 2, guilt inductions increased leniency among participants less likely to classify the veteran as an in-group member (women, low national identifiers), but not in those who are more likely to classify the veteran as an in-group member (men, high national identifiers), who were lenient without any guilt inductions.

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Created

Date Created
2015

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Procedural justice, veteran identity and legal legitimacy in veteran treatment courts

Description

In the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, courts and social service systems across the country have begun establishing veterans treatment courts (VTC). The first VTC was created in 2004 and there are now over 300 in

In the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, courts and social service systems across the country have begun establishing veterans treatment courts (VTC). The first VTC was created in 2004 and there are now over 300 in at least 35 states. Yet, their underlying assumptions have not been clearly articulated and their functioning and outcomes have not been well tested. These courts aim to reduce rates of incarceration and recidivism among justice-involved veterans and draw heavily on the structure and assumptions of drug and mental health courts. However, VTCs are different in important ways. Unlike other problem solving courts, VTCs actively express gratitude to criminal defendants (for past military service) and have the ability to connect participants to a socially-esteemed identity. Earlier problem solving courts have drawn on Tyler’s theory of procedural justice to predict a path from procedurally fair treatment and social bonds with court personnel through changes in social identity to increased perceptions of legal legitimacy and, ultimately, program completion and reduced recidivism. The present study tested a modified, version of Tyler’s theory that incorporates gratitude and focuses on veteran identity as the mediating construct between fair treatment and perceptions of legal legitimacy. A cross-sectional survey design was used with a convenience sample (N = 188) of participants in two Arizona VTCs. The results indicate that perceptions of procedural justice, perceived social bonds and receipt of gratitude are positively associated with both veteran identity and perceptions of legal legitimacy. Further, veteran identity was found to be a significant mediator between the first three constructs and legal legitimacy. Finally, neither recidivism risk nor race/ethnicity moderated the relationships. The study supports the importance of acknowledging past military service and enhancing the level of veteran identity among VTC participants. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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Date Created
2016

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Toxic Oligomeric Variants of TDP-43 May Contribute to Cognitive Deficits Secondary to Diffuse Experimental TBI

Description

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects approximately two million people on an annual basis and increases the frequency and onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other related dementias (ADRDs). Mechanical damage and shearing of neuronal axons are thought to be responsible

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects approximately two million people on an annual basis and increases the frequency and onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other related dementias (ADRDs). Mechanical damage and shearing of neuronal axons are thought to be responsible for producing toxic variants of proteins that contribute to disease pathology. Specifically, the tau, beta amyloid, alpha-synuclein, and TAR-binding DNA Protein-43 (TDP-43) variants contribute to the heterogenous pathology mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases. The Sierks lab at Arizona State University has aimed to study how these protein variants collectively interact to contribute to pathologies characteristic of AD/ADRDs. This study focuses on the accumulation of toxic oligomeric variants of TDP-43 secondary to TBI. The first aim of this study was to identify the protein variant fingerprint as a function time following experimental diffuse TBI. The second aim was to investigate if toxic variants of TDP-43 were associated with cognitive and motor functional deficits. C57BL/6 mice were subjected to a single or repetitive diffuse TBI via midline fluid percussion injury or a control surgery (sham). Post-injury, mice were evaluated for cognitive performance, sensorimotor function, and depressive-like behavior at 7-, 14-, and 28-days post-injury. Tissue was collected for immunohistochemistry and stained for ADTDP-3, a single chain antibody variable fragment (ScFv) which binds to toxic variants of TDP-43 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and AD tissue. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to compare staining intensity across various brain regions. Subsequently, a Pearson correlation was performed to compare behavioral task performance to staining intensity by brain region for each injury group. There were significantly elevated levels of ADTDP3 binding in all regions except for the hippocampus, and there was a significant correlation between the cortex staining intensity vs the cognitive behavior test at 7 days post-injury. There was also a significant correlation between the thalamus staining intensity and sensorimotor test at 7 days post-injury. These findings support the hypothesis that the accumulation of toxic variants of TDP-43 can contribute to neurodegenerative pathology and loss of function. These variants also may contribute to behavioral deficits secondary to diffuse TBI.

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Date Created
2021

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Service-related conditions and higher-order cognitive processing in military veteran college students

Description

Military veterans have a significantly higher incidence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), depression, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to civilians. Military veterans also represent a rapidly growing subgroup of college students, due in part to the robust and

Military veterans have a significantly higher incidence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), depression, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to civilians. Military veterans also represent a rapidly growing subgroup of college students, due in part to the robust and financially incentivizing educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The overlapping cognitively impacting symptoms of service-related conditions combined with the underreporting of mTBI and psychiatric-related conditions, make accurate assessment of cognitive performance in military veterans challenging. Recent research findings provide conflicting information on cognitive performance patterns in military veterans. The purpose of this study was to determine whether service-related conditions and self-assessments predict performance on complex working memory and executive function tasks for military veteran college students. Sixty-one military veteran college students attending classes at Arizona State University campuses completed clinical neuropsychological tasks and experimental working memory and executive function tasks. The results revealed that a history of mTBI significantly predicted poorer performance in the areas of verbal working memory and decision-making. Depression significantly predicted poorer performance in executive function related to serial updating. In contrast, the commonly used clinical neuropsychological tasks were not sensitive service-related conditions including mTBI, PTSD, and depression. The differing performance patterns observed between the clinical tasks and the more complex experimental tasks support that researchers and clinicians should use tests that sufficiently tax verbal working memory and executive function when evaluating the subtle, higher-order cognitive deficits associated with mTBI and depression.

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Date Created
2017

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Cognitive-communication Abilities in Bilinguals with a History of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Description

Mild TBI (mTBI) has been associated with subtle executive function (EF) and

cognitive-communication deficits. In bilinguals, there are unique cognitive demands required to control and process two languages effectively. Surprisingly, little is known about the impact of mTBI on EF, communication,

Mild TBI (mTBI) has been associated with subtle executive function (EF) and

cognitive-communication deficits. In bilinguals, there are unique cognitive demands required to control and process two languages effectively. Surprisingly, little is known about the impact of mTBI on EF, communication, and language control in bilinguals. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the cognitive-communication abilities in bilinguals with a history of mTBI, identify any language control impairments, and explore the relationship between these language control impairments and domain-general cognitive control abilities. To this end, three-hundred and twenty-seven monolingual and bilingual college students with and without mTBI history participated in two experiments. In these experiments, EF, communication, and language control were examined using experimental and clinical tasks as well as self-rating scales. In Experiment 1, there was an interaction between mTBI history and language group (monolinguals vs. bilinguals) in how participants performed on a clinical measure of EF and a verbal fluency task. That is, only bilinguals with mTBI scored significantly lower on these tasks. In addition, there was a significant correlation between errors on a language switching task and performance on non-verbal EF tasks. In Experiment 2, a subgroup of bilinguals with persistent cognitive and behavioral symptoms reported greater everyday communication challenges in their first and second languages. Also, unbalanced bilinguals reported greater EF difficulties than monolinguals and balanced bilinguals regardless of mTBI history. In conclusion, bilinguals may face unique cognitive-communication challenges after mTBI. Factors related to the bilingual experience (e.g., language balance, daily language use) should be

considered in clinical evaluation and future research.

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Created

Date Created
2020

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Discovering the Unique Assets of Veterans in Engineering: A Strengths-Based Thematic Analysis of Veterans’ Narratives

Description

Prior research has provided evidence to suggest that veterans exhibit unique assets that benefit them in engineering education and engineering industry. However, there is little evidence to determine whether their assets are due to military service or other demographic factors

Prior research has provided evidence to suggest that veterans exhibit unique assets that benefit them in engineering education and engineering industry. However, there is little evidence to determine whether their assets are due to military service or other demographic factors such as age, maturity, or gender. The aim of this study is to discover, better understand, and disseminate the unique assets that veterans gained through military service and continue to employ as engineering students or professional engineers. This strength-based thematic analysis investigated the semi-structured narrative interviews of 18 military veterans who are now engineering students or professionals in engineering industry. Using the Funds of Knowledge framework, veterans’ Funds of Knowledge were identified and analyzed for emergent themes. Participants exhibited 10 unique veterans’ Funds of Knowledge. Utilizing analytical memos, repeated reflection, and iterative analysis, two overarching themes emerged, Effective Teaming in Engineering and Adapting to Overcome Challenges. Additionally, a niche concept of Identity Crafting was explored using the unique narratives of two participants. This study provides empirical evidence of military veterans experientially learning valuable assets in engineering from their military service. A better understanding of the veterans’ Funds of Knowledge presented in this study provides valuable opportunities for their utilization in engineering education and engineering industry.

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Date Created
2020