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MEMOTV Report Summary

Project ID: 323977
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

Mid-Term Report Summary - MEMOTV (Epigenetic, neural and cognitive memories of traumatic stress and violence)

MemoTV is a collaborative, interdisciplinary investigation of the epigenetic variants underpinning mental health and behavior in association with traumatic and violent experiences. MemoTV spans 3 continents and a variety of civilian and military populations. Since 2013, MemoTV Burundi has interviewed and collected saliva samples from over 500 soldiers in order to investigate the impact of traumatic and violent experiences on behavior and mental health. Furthermore, the soldiers have participated in resting state electroencephalogram research to determine the potential effects of traumatic and violent experiences on brain activity. Studies in Burundi have also included over 150 female former combatants, supporters of armed groups and civilians. An intervention specifically designed for violent perpetrators, FORNET (Forensic offender rehabilitation narrative exposure therapy) has been implemented in followup studies. MemoTV Germany has examined over 20 mother-child dyads to assess the impact of traumatic experiences on behavior and mental health. The studies have conducted genome wide DNA analyses, utilized resting state electro-encephalogram technology, utilized Oscillatory stimulation via International Affective System (IAPS) pictures as means to study the relationship between epigenetic changes and brain organization. MemoTV Brazil investigated nearly 130 grandmother-daughter-grandchild triads for the first ever three generation study of traumatic experience and epigenetic variants. MemoTV South Africa has interviewed almost 300 participants in order to investigate traumatic and violent experiences in young males with a criminal history in Cape Town. Almost a third of the participants with the highest aggression scale and trauma symptom scores were selected to participate in mental health interventions such as the aforementioned FORNET and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Epigenetic wide genome associations (EWAS) are also being investigated in this group of participants. MemoTV has been publishing strong results on a variety of biological, neurological and psychological fronts, all of which play a vital role in humanitarian efforts in crisis regions around the world. Although not as easily quantifiable, the long-lasting imprints being left on the communities having participated in MemoTV studies influence an uncountable number of mental health professionals, lay counselors, other community members and, most importantly, survivors of severe traumatic events. The effectiveness of MemoTV's programs is already leaving a legacy of innovation combined with compassion, as is visible through the grassroots implementation, maintenance and dispersal of the knowledge base and interventions long after the project has officially left the region.

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