Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Jeffrey Kibler

Second Advisor

Travis Craddock

Third Advisor

Amarilis Acevedo

Fourth Advisor

Christian DeLucia


gulf war illness, neurosciences, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychology, working memory


Gulf War Illness (GWI) impacts 25 to 32 percent of those deployed in the 1991 Gulf War (White et al., 2016) and includes symptoms related to fatigue and mood/neurological disturbances. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain the influence of trauma exposure and chemical exposure when investigating neuropsychological symptoms. This cross-sectional study utilized a group of veterans with and without GWI (n=61) to investigate: 1) the unique impact that GWI has on a survey measure of attention and memory or the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT). We also investigated how PTSD symptoms, followed by fatigue levels, improved the GWI model when predicting performance. Next, we analyzed the unique impact that GWI diagnosis, followed by pro-inflammatory interleukins, would have on reported levels of fatigue.

Although there was not a statistically significant relationship between GWI and the PASAT scores, there was an emerging trend showing GWI as a meaningful effect. The secondary analyses investigating the influence of interleukins on measures of fatigue also only showed GWI diagnosis as significant predictor. Post-hoc analyses were conducted that included pro-inflammatory (INFy and TNFa) cytokines in another model of GWI. Therefore, a model with the incremental addition of GWI, proinflammatory markers, and PTSD symptoms was tested for its ability to predict worse performance on the PASAT. Results indicated that pro-inflammatory markers were significant across virtually all trials of the PASAT, over and above GWI and PTSD symptom levels. More investigation investigating the linkage between these processes and cytokines are therefore necessary to elucidate these patterns.

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