Cuba: Study Finds ‘Significant’ Brain Differences in U.S. Diplomats Affected by ‘Sonic’ Attacks

Cuban and US flags are pictured in a street of Havana, on September 20, 2018. - The Cuban Chancellor Bruno Rodriguez, recieved in La Havana on September 19, the US President of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Corker, despite the tense moment that bilateral ties cross, after the arrival …

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found “significant differences” in the brain constitutions of American diplomats who reported experiencing the adverse health effects of what the State Department has called an “attack” while working in Havana, Cuba.

The diplomats began reporting headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, and other “concussion-like” symptoms while working out of the American Embassy in Havana in late 2016, the State Department revealed in August 2017. The U.S. government documented over two dozen cases of individuals exhibiting the same symptoms and concluded they were under attack, either by the government of Cuba or a foreign actor the Cubans were allowing to operate on their soil.

In addition to the Americans, a cohort of Canadian diplomats also reported similar symptoms. The U.S. government has documented at least one similar case in Shanghai, China. The mother of the woman affected in China claimed that the piercing sounds heard in her daughter’s apartment caused extreme headaches and vomiting, even to her dogs.

A former Cuban political prisoner told Breitbart News following the Associated Press’s publication of a recording of the sound affiliated with the symptoms that it resembled the shrill acoustic torture he was exposed to while in prison decades ago. In his case, the sound was broadcast through the prison through large speakers, intended to drive the prisoners insane.

The incidents were initially referred to as “sonic attacks” because many of those affected reporting hearing high-pitched noises in their homes before the onset of headaches and other symptoms. Scientists have not confirmed that it is possible to emit sounds that would cause brain damage, however, as doctors concluded the victims had. While other theories on what happened to the diplomats have surfaced, like the use of microwaves to injure the brain, none has been confirmed as the source of the damage.

The Cuban government has claimed that the victims of the attack are not ill and that they were frightened into believing they were under attack by the sound of the local crickets in Havana.

The JAMA study, by the same University of Pennsylvania team that initially found “widespread brain network dysfunction” among the diplomats affected by the alleged attacks found “significant” differences between the control group of healthy individuals and the Cuba subjects. It scanned the brains of 40 individuals believed to have been affected by the attacks, many more than the original 26 the State Department confirmed had experienced adverse health effects.

The attack victims’ brains differed in “whole brain white matter volume, regional gray and white matter volume, cerebellar tissue microstructural integrity, and functional connectivity in the auditory and visuospatial subnetworks.” White matter is the part of the brain that connects nerves and allows the brain to send messages.

“If the nervous system were a computer network, gray matter – a non-myelinated portion that contains nerve cells and capillaries – would be the computers and white matter the cables,” a UC Davis Department of Neurology article explains. The Havana group appeared to have significantly less of it.

The JAMA study does not make any conclusions regarding the potential effects of having significantly less white matter following the incidents and insists “the clinical relevance of these differences is uncertain and may require further study.” It does note that the affected areas are those controlling sight and hearing, which would align with some of the patients stating that they had suffered hearing loss.

Voice of America noted that other studies on the individuals in question are forthcoming, led by the National Institutes of Health along with other government agencies.

“After two years of much speculation and little information and cooperation, not a single reason has surfaced for the closure of consular services, the expulsion of Cuban diplomats from Washington, the deceitful travel alerts, and all the unjust measures that the U.S. has taken under the pretext that their diplomats face some sort of danger in Cuba,” Cuban Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada said on Tuesday in response to the study. Tablada was referring to measures the administration of President Donald Trump took following the revelation of the diplomats’ injuries in October 2017.

Tablada also condemned National Security Advisor John Bolton for calling the incidents “attacks,” a term she claimed “belies bad intentions and that has never been proven.”

The Trump administration began using the term attacks before Bolton became national security advisor in April 2018. Bolton is currently in Seoul helping mediate the ongoing trade dispute between South Korea and Japan.

The Cuban communist regime’s doctors also came out against the JAMA study. The head of Cuba’s Neuroscience Center claimed that the report was “not conclusive,” something the authors of the report wrote in the report itself, and that the specific differences in the brains of those in the study were too “diffuse” to represent a clear picture of what occurred. Some claimed that the white matter differences could represent “psychological” differences between the subjects and the control group, harkening back to Cuba’s original explanation that over two dozen American embassy staffers had significant mental health problems.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.