Skip to main content

Cerebral basis of posttraumatic stress disorder following the Chernobyl disaster

  • Konstantin N. Loganovsky (a1) and Nataliya A. Zdanevich (a1)

Whether posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following radiation emergency has psychopathological, neurocognitive, and neurophysiological peculiarities is at issue.


The goal was to explore the features and cerebral basis of “radiation” PTSD in the survivors of the Chernobyl accident.

Subjects and Methods

The cross-sectional study included 241 people, 219 of whom have been diagnosed with PTSD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV) criteria, among them 115 clean-up workers of the Chernobyl accident (34 with acute radiation sickness), 76 evacuees from the Chernobyl exclusion zone, 28 veterans of the war in Afghanistan, and 22 healthy unexposed individuals. Psychometric examinations, neurocognitive assessments, computerized electroencephalography, and cerebral vascular Doppler were used.


“Radiation” PTSD includes “flashforward” phenomena and anticipating stress (projection of fear and danger to the future); somatoform disorders (depression, trait and state anxiety); and neurocognitive deficit (impaired memory and attention, auditory-verbal memory and learning, proactive and retroactive interference, cerebellar and stem symptoms, intellectual changes). The intima-media component, thickness of common carotid arteries, and common and left internal carotid arteries stenosis rates are increased in the liquidators. Changes of bioelectrical brain activity as a decrease of beta- and theta-power, together with an increase of alpha-power, were found in the Chernobyl accident survivors with PTSD.


PTSD following radiation emergency is characterized by comorbidity of psychopathology, neurocognitive deficit, and cerebrovascular pathology with increased risk of cerebral atherosclerosis and stroke. The cerebral basis of this PTSD is proposed to be an abnormal communication between the pyramidal cells of the neocortex and the hippocampus, and deep brain structures. It is recommended that a system of emergency and long-term psychological and psychiatric care be organized for the survivors in Fukushima Daichi, Japan

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Konstantin N. Loganovsky, Department of Radiation Psychoneurology, Institute for Clinical Radiology, State Institution “National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine, National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine”, 53 Melnikov Street, 04050, Kyiv, Ukraine. (Email
Hide All
1.World Health Organization. Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident and Special Health Care Programmes: Report of the UN Chernobyl Forum Expert Group “Health” (EGH). Bennet B, Repacholli M, Carr Zh, eds. Geneva: WHO; 2000.
2.Bromet, EJ, Havenaar, JM. Psychological and perceived health effects of the Chernobyl disaster: a 20-year review. Health Phys. 2007; 93(5): 516521.
3.Bromet, EJ, Havenaar, JM, Guey, LT. A 25 year retrospective review of the psychological consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2011; 23(4): 297305.
4.Loganovsky, K. Do low doses of ionizing radiation affect the human brain? Data Science Journal. 2009; 8: BR13BR35.
5.Loganovsky, K, Havenaar, JM, Tintle, NL, etal. The mental health of clean-up workers 18 years after the Chernobyl accident. Psychol Med. 2008; 38(4): 481488.
6.Speckhard, A. Psycho-social and physical outcomes of technological disaster: information as a traumatic stressor. In: Berkowitz N, ed. A Chernobyl Reader. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press; 2005.
7.Rumyantseva, GM. Medical and psychological aid to survivors of ecological disasters. Psychiatry and Psychopharmacotherapy. 2001;3(4). Available at: [in Russian].
8.Rumyantseva, GM, Stepanov, AL. Post-traumatic stress disorder in different types of stress (clinical features and treatment). Neurosci Behav Physiol. 2008; 38(1): 5561.
9.Wang, Z, Neylan, TC. Magnetic resonance imaging of hippocampal subfields in posttraumatic disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67(3): 296303.
10.Qureshi, SU, Long, ME, Bradshaw, MR, etal. Does PTSD impair cognition beyond the effect of trauma? J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001; 23(1): 1628.
11.Loganovsky, KN, Loganovskaja, TK. Schizophrenia spectrum disorders in persons exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of the Chernobyl accident. Schizophr Bull. 2000; 26(4): 751773.
12.Loganovsky, KN, Yuryev, KL. EEG patterns in persons exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of the Chernobyl accident: part 1: conventional EEG analysis. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001; 13(4): 441458.
13.Zhavoronkova, LA, Gabova, AV, Kuznetsova, GD, etal. Post-radiation effect on the interhemispheric asymmetry in EEG and thermography characteristics. Zh Vyssh Nerv Deiat Im I P Pavlova. 2003; 53(4): 410419 [in Russian].
14.Loganovsky, KN, Yuryev, KL. EEG patterns in persons exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of the Chernobyl accident: part 2: quantitative EEG analysis in patients who had acute radiation sickness. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2004; 16(1): 7082.
15.Bomko, MO. Neurovisualization morphometry characteristics of an organic brain damage in remote period of ionizing radiation exposure after the Chernobyl NPP accident. Ukrainian Medical Journal. 2004; 40(2): 96101 [in Ukrainian].
16.Antipchuk, KYu. Neuropsychological approach in diagnostics of brain radiation damage. Ukrainian Medical Journal. 2004; 41(3): 121128 [in Ukrainian].
17.Gamache, GL, Levinson, DM, Reeves, DL, etal. Longitudinal neurocognitive assessments of Ukrainians exposed to ionizing radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2005; 20(1): 8193.
18.Denisuk, NV. Chronic cerebrovascular disorders within remote period upon radiation exposure in Chernobyl NPP accident clean-up workers. Ukrainian Medical Journal. 2006; 53(3): 5464 [in Russian].
19.Antypchuk, YeYu, Loganovsky, KN, Perchuk, IV, etal. Postradiation cognitive disorders. Int J Psychophys. 2008; 69(3): 248.
20.Loganovsky, K, Antypchuk, Ye, Chuprovskaja, N, etal. Cognitive disorders and their risk factors in the late period of exposure to ionizing radiation following the Chernobyl accident. Paper presented at: Late Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation: Bridging the Experimental and Epidemiologic Divide; May 4–6, 2009; Georgetown University Conference Center, Washington, DC; 107.
21.Zhavoronkova, LA, Belostotski˘, AP, Kulikov, MA, etal. Specificity of auditory evoked potentials changes in participants of Chernobyl accident consequences: I. analysis of early N1 component. Fiziol Cheloveka. 2010; 36(2): 3243 [in Russian].
22.Kholodova, NB, Zhavoronkova, LA. Changes in the nervous system in Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident clean-up workers. Neurosci Behav Physiol. 2011; 41(1): 2627.
23.Vinychuk, SM, Fartushna, OE. The thickness of complex intima-media of the internal carotid artery as a predictor of transient ischemic attack/stroke. International Neurological Journal. 2009; 7(29): 3441 [in Ukrainian].
24.Loganovsky, K, Loganovskaja, T, Nechayev, S, etal. Disrupted development of dominant brain hemisphere following prenatal irradiation. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2008; 20: 274291.
25.Kurtzke, JF. A new scale for evaluating disability in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. 1955; 5(8): 580583.
26.Loganovsky, K, Loganovkaja, T. Chernobyl neuropsychiatric legacy and Fukushima. In: Bazyka D, ed. Abstracts of 10th Lowrad Conference 2011, “The Effects of Low and Very Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation on Human Health and Biotopes”; December 5–7, 2011; National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine if National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine; 65.
27.Loganovsky, K, Zdanevich, N. Post-traumatic stress disorder following Chernobyl accident. In: Abstracts of 10th Lowrad Conference 2011, “The Effects of Low and Very Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation on Human Health and Biotopes”; December 5–7, 2011; Kyiv, Ukraine; 67.
28.Loganovsky, K, Zdanevich, N. Postradiation post-traumatic stress disorder. In: Abstracts of 14th International Congress of Radiation Research ICRR2011, “The Chernobyl Impact on Health and Environment—a Quarter Century Later”; Satellite Symposium, September 2–3, 2011; Kyiv, Ukraine; 63.
29.Loganovsky, K, Loganovkaja, T. Unclaimed Fukushima psychological and neuropsychiatric lessons of Chernobyl. Ukrainian Medical Journal. 2011; 82(3): 1821 [in Russian].
30.Loganovsky, KN, Loganovkaja, TK. Fukushima—Sakura blossom? New Millennium Medicine. 2011; 1: 1425 [in Russian].
31.Ohnishi, T. The disaster at Japan's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting spread of radioisotope contamination. Radiat Res. 2012; 177: 114.
32.Suzuki, Y, Kim, Y. The Great East Japan earthquake in 2011: toward sustainable mental health care system. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. 2012; 21(1): 711.
33.Bromet, EJ. Mental health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. J Radiol Prot. 2012; 32: N71N75.
34.Matsuoka, Y, Nishi, D, Nakaya, N, etal. Concern over radiation exposure and psychological distress among rescue workers following the Great East Japan Earthquake. BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 249.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

CNS Spectrums
  • ISSN: 1092-8529
  • EISSN: 2165-6509
  • URL: /core/journals/cns-spectrums
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed