A suspected sonic attack on U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba, that led to unexplained health complications could have changed the victims’ brains, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.
The U.S. government recalled most of its staff from the Havana embassy in 2017 after several of them complained of unexplained symptoms including dizziness, intense headaches and hearing loss following a strange sound emanating from one direction.
The source of the sound has never been found but it made the American officials physically ill, Science Alert reported.
Brain scans taken between August 2017 and June 2018 from 40 people exposed to the “sonic attack” showed changes in their brain structure that affected functional connectivity in visual and auditory areas, researchers said in a study published this month in the journal JAMA.
“It certainly does not resemble the imaging presentation of traumatic brain injury or concussion, although they present with clinical symptoms which are concussion-like,” Ragini Verma, professor of radiology and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told CNN.
“It says something happened, and we need to look further, and that’s about it.”
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Cuba has, however, dismissed the findings, saying the results of the scans were unclear.
Cuban lead scientist Prof. Mitchell Valdés-Sosa told BBC that “the changes in the brain images are very small, very diverse and very diffuse. They do not correspond to a coherent explanation.”
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