Doctors Find Abnormalities in Brains of ‘Sonic Attack’ Victims

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The U.S. embassy in Havana. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

The mystery surrounding the so-called “sonic attack” on U.S. embassy workers in Cuba is deepening. On Wednesday, the AP reported on the most dramatic effect seen in victims yet — perceptible, physical changes to their brains.

For months, embassy workers who fell ill after hearing loud sounds and vibrations in Cuba were known to be suffering symptoms including hearing loss, severe headaches, loss of balance, and concentration problems. In their effort to explain those symptoms, doctors have now discovered an underlying result of the still-unexplained attack, the AP reports:

Medical testing has revealed the embassy workers developed changes to the white matter tracts that let different parts of the brain communicate, several U.S. officials said, describing a growing consensus held by university and government physicians researching the attacks. White matter acts like information highways between brain cells.

The revelation of just how deep the damage goes is one reason why the U.S. is beginning to believe that the “sonic attack,” which affected 24 embassy workers and their spouses, was mislabeled. The mysterious sounds heard by those who later suffered symptoms are now thought to be by-products of the actual attack, U.S. officials told the AP.

As investigators continue to look for who and what was behind this attack, doctors are busy preparing for more victims. Protocols are being established to treat new patients, should they emerge, and an article being submitted to the Journal of the American Medical Association will attempt to explain the finer points of the phenomena to the medical community.

The victims, meanwhile, are getting better, with all but a quarter reporting that their symptoms have subsided.

Docs Find Abnormalities in Brains of ‘Sonic Attack’ Victims