On July 23, a new study was published, from the University of Pennsylvania, in JAMA magazine, in which images of the brains of U.S. diplomatic personnel who reported health problems in Havana are compared with those of a control group. The study concludes that there are differences between the brain images of diplomats and those of control subjects. This piece is the continuation of an article that describes the clinical condition of these diplomats in the same journal, in its March, 2018, edition.
The article does not allow clear scientific conclusions to be drawn. The medical results are confusing and contradictory, of special concern given the numerous questions already raised by the international scientific community, which have not been satisfactorily answered.
The article does not prove that the diplomats suffered brain damage during their stay in Cuba, contrary to speculation and what was raised in the previous article.
In the opinion of Cuban experts, the only way to clarify the health status of those affected is through transparent scientific discussion and the exchange of open, unbiased information.
Although it is not customary to comment so quickly on a scientific article, given the media impact in this case, and to prevent misinterpretation, Granma publishes the preliminary opinions of the Cuban expert group:
1-The authors themselves acknowledge that the study is inconclusive and that they have no explanation for their findings.
2-The changes described are small, very diverse, inconsistent, and do not indicate a coherent pattern. This is not only the opinion of the Cuban medical group, but of recognized experts in the field of neuroimaging, who have stated that these results are not consistent.
3-It is common that in neuroimaging studies, as in other medical fields, there are effects noted in small samples, which are not replicable. They originate by chance. Some of the changes reflect a slight change toward the abnormal, but others are slightly hypernormal.
4-The degree of to which the two groups’ data overlap is not shown in the article.
5-The differences between diplomats and controls, if any, may be related to how the control group was selected. Any pre-existing illness in a group of diplomats, which is absent in the controls (and vice versa) could give rise to a difference in the images.
6-The measures of functional connectivity networks used are very nonspecific and are altered by the psychological state of the subject, as recognized in the article itself and by the scientific community.
7-There is no discernible relationship between the alterations detected in the neuroimages and the symptoms reported by diplomats.
8-There is no coherence between the findings reported in this article and those from the previous one. For example, in the previous piece, from the same research group at the University of Pennsylvania, alterations of executive functions in neurosychological tests were described. In this work no functional connectivity alterations are found in the executive subnet.
9-Alterations noted in neuroimages, if any, may have originated before the subject’s stay in Cuba or due to a disease unrelated to the “directional” phenomena of strange sounds and other sensations described by diplomats.
10-Although the article’s title refers to so-called “directional phenomena”, the work does not show any relationship between the findings in the images and these alleged phenomena. This is important, given the scientific community’s widespread skepticism regarding theories of sonic or microwave attacks.
As Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said, “There is no evidence or scientific explanation that indicates deliberate acts against diplomats in Havana. What was published by JAMA confirms this.”
SOURCE:On behalf of the Cuban Expert Committee, these arguments were presented by Dr. Mitchell Joseph Valdés-Sosa, general director of the Neurosciences Center, during a July 30 press conference.
(Taken from Granma)