346 PTSD

    Around noon of January 18th, Gu Jun walked towards the Psychology Building accompanied by Wu Siyu and Cai Zixuan. After entering the building, they headed to the cerebral function research lab on the 5th floor where Prof Shen awaited them. Alongside Prof Shen was the leader of the lab, Professor Ma Jun and his colleagues. Prof Ma was the nation's leading expert on the brain and he was part of Gu Jun's treatment team. Gu Jun's brain was currently in an abnormal state. He did not suffer from any common mental disorder, like anxiety, depression, irritability or hallucination. There was no noticeable change to his personality either.

    However, once he came into contact with 'abnormal forces' or 'supernatural forces', like the Zoogs, Dreamlands, spell, illusion, R'yleh and the like, he would suffer a splitting headache. The contact here included hearing them in passing from other people's conversation as well as thinking or physically interacting with them. The symptom when he heard about them from the others was the lightest. If he did not fixate on it, then it would only lead to a minor headache; but once he started to ponder upon it, then the symptom would greatly intensify. His brain would feel like breaking; the condition was worst if he participated in the activity personally.

    Regardless of the symptoms, once he severed the contact, his headache would slowly recede. And he was perfectly fine when contact was null. In contrast, the longer the contact, the more intense the pain. In fact, the pain could reach such heights where Gu Jun would convulse involuntarily and go unconscious. For example, 3 days ago, Gu Jun was reading a document sent over by Elder Tong about GOA. He only read 2 pages when he fainted from convulsion. That frightened everyone around him. Thankfully due to the swift reaction of the nurses, he awakened soon after. That caused a damper over everyone's mood for they knew they were in for a big trouble.

    Gu Jun knew his situation was not optimistic too. Just reading two pages exhausted the complete store of his mental energy. He felt weak and listless. He only managed to recover 24 hours later. The human brain was too complex. Furthermore, Gu Jun had suffered from brain tumor, cerebral anoxia and not to mention, he had a polymer stuck in his head. His injured part was the right prefrontal lobe and that complicated things even further.

    Thankfully, there was precedence to Gu Jun's case. His condition was very similar to PTSD, with his trigger being supernatural elements. Jack Wales suffered from the same PTSD symptoms as well. In fact, some of the other surviving agents had minor PTSD too. However, different from them, Gu Jun did not show any other typical PTSD clinical syndrome. He did not show experience of painful flashbacks, no negative change to his perception, did not develop paranoia and so on. Psychologically speaking, his mind was willing to face these 'traumas', he showed no trace of avoidance. However, his biological reaction to the trigger showed great desire for avoidance. Despite the lack of psychological pain, there was intense biological pain. And that fitted with the diagnosis of PTSD.

    Regarding this situation, the higher-ups including Elder Tong and Yao Sinian were worried. As his mentor, Elder Tong did not wish to see Gu Jun suffer like this. Personally, he'd rather Gu Jun stay away from the supernatural. For the past 2 years, Gu Jun had contributed more than enough to warrant a safe retirement... But that would be a great loss to the world and Phecda. Phecda would not lose such an important member without a fight. Therefore, the treatment team was called into action again. Surgeons like Liu Mingfeng receded to the background as neurologists like Prof Ma Jun took over the helm. Their main mission was to search for the pathological mechanism. Was this a problem with Gu Jun's psychology or a biological problem within his brain?

    Gu Jun had tried the cleansing stone and there was no sign of mental corruption. He had not taken the S value assessment for Prof Shen worried that the images of the battlefield and death might send him into another coma.

    Gu Jun, Wu Siyu and Cai Zixuan walked into the lab. The advanced devices there would be used to conduct a more detailed inspection of his brain. The lab was spacious and bright. It was separated into multiple rooms and the front room led off to different inspection labs.

    After the perfunctory greeting, Gu Jun was led by Prof Ma into the FMRI lab. Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. The primary form of fMRI uses the blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) contrast. It is non-invasive and doesn't involve radiation, making it safe for the subject.

    "Functional magnetic resonance imaging measures the small changes in blood flow that occur with brain activity." Prof Shen explained to Wu Siyu and Cai Zixuan, "During the test, Ah Jun will be given a stimuli-related task to complete and through the signal changes to his blood flow, we can determine the neuronal activation of specific brain areas. That triangulation can help us determine pathological mechanisms."

    "Well, I got nothing." Wu Siyu looked through the lab window to see Gu Jun lying on the fMRI bed. "Prof Shen, can you lower the explanation to normal people level?"

    Actually Cai Zixuan did not understand fMRI that well either. Modern medicine had too many specializations. He did not study neurology so some of the terms flew over his head as well. He did some homework because he was to accompany his good friend today and he barely grasped what Prof Shen said.

    "Hmm." Prof Shen thought about it and tried to explain it in the plainest language, "Oxygen is delivered to neurons by haemoglobin in capillary red blood cells. When neuronal activity increases, there is an increased demand for oxygen, and thus the local response is an increase in blood flow to regions of increased neural activity. Since blood oxygenation varies according to the levels of neural activity, these differences can be used to detect brain activity. This form of MRI is known as blood oxygenation level dependent or BOLD imaging. This will help us find out which neural voxel of his brain is active when he is exposed to specific trigger."

    After hearing the new explanation, Wu Siyu nodded. "Okay, I still got nothing."

    "Erm..." Prof Shen felt the need to go into even more basics, "BOLD imaging is the standard technique used to generate images in fMRI studies, and relies on regional differences in cerebral blood flow to delineate regional activity. Deoxygenated hemoglobin is paramagnetic whereas oxygenated hemoglobin is not, and therefore the former will cause local dephasing of protons, and thus reduce the returned signal from the tissues in the immediate vicinity..."

    "Prof Shen, the more you explain, the more confused I am." Wu Siyu raised her hands to stop the prof. "See if I get this right. This scan is to check which part of Dirty-minded Jun's brain is affected when he is faced with the trigger, and from that, hopefully we can find the problem."

    Cai Zixuan felt like she had summarized the situation quite perfectly.

    "That's about it." Prof Shen concurred, "But of course the human brain is more complicated than that..."

    As Wu Siyu nodded along, her mind went elsewhere. She didn't need this complexity in her life.

    At the same time, the machines in the lab started to whir. The bed carrying Gu Jun slowly moved into the circular gradient coils.


    General Update: The amount I'm earning every month combining all the income from Webnovel, Kofi and Patreon is less than the minimum wage in my country.

    So I'll have to reavulate my system. For every 10 Usd donated on Patreon, there will be 1 monthly chapter. Eg. at this moment of writing, my donation is 280 Usd, so there will be 28 chapters this month. Donation through Ko-fi will be calculated similarly.

    Earning from Privilege System will be calculated in the same system as well. Ie, for this month, the income was 32 Usd so there would be 3 additional chapter release this month.
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