According to a new brain study, people who were close to the World Trade Center when the twin towers toppled on Sept. 11, 2001 now have brains that are more reactive to emotional stimuli than those who were more than 200 miles away.

Researcher Elise Temple says, “These people appear to be doing okay, but they may, indeed, be having more sensitive responses to upsetting stimuli.” These people may experience lingering symptoms (bad dreams, jumpiness, thinking about the incident and avoiding the site of the trauma), but they are not severe. However, the kinds of changes that these traumas cause in the brain, the researchers suspect, create vulnerability to developing future mental disorders.

Reseacher Barbara Ganzel says, “Our study suggests that there may be long-term neural correlates of trauma exposure, even in people who have looked resilient. Up until now, there has been very little evidence of that.”

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