Colombian woman leaning on the window
Project Type - Pilot Projects

Brain Health in Individuals with Exposition to High Violence in Colombia

Examining the effects of cumulative life experiences of violence on brain health
Latin America & Caribbean


Members of armed groups involved in combat frequently face cumulative experiences of violence and life-threatening situations that may impact health years after a war context. These cumulative life experiences of violence (CLTV) include situations in which they were perpetrators but also victims of violent acts, such as torture, kidnapping, and psychophysical trauma. Individuals with high CLTV exhibit different health and social problems. However, to date, the role of CLTV on brain health is still under study. Brain health refers to a state of cognitive, mental, physical, and social well-being occurring at any point throughout the continuous development of a healthy brain. Brain health encompasses different domains, including a) cognitive/social-cognitive processes, b) psychiatric/mental health aspects, and c) daily life/social functionality processes. Previous studies have revealed different effects of CLTV on brain health-related outcomes. However, more systematic studies assessing the specific effects of CLTV on described brain health domains are still required. Colombia could be considered a suitable country to assess these gaps. This nation has had one of the most long-lasting armed conflicts in the world with devastating consequences. The peace process agreement signed in December of 2016 with FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) has opened the opportunity to interact with some of the relevant actors in the Colombian conflict, increasing the options for studying the brain health consequences of prolonged exposure to war.

Project Details

Our overarching goal is to study the impact of CLTV on different brain health domains in individuals with presumed high exposure to CLTV, such as the group of FARC ex-combatants. We aim to study the role of CLTV on cognitive/social-cognitive, psychiatric/mental health, and functional aspects of brain health. Moreover, we will assess the extent to which the potential interactions between CLTV and the brain health domains can be impacted by the role of classical brain health predictors, including the social determinants of health and medical risks. Our project brings two significant impacts. Our results could help to understand the unknown role of CLTV as a determinant of brain health. Also, anticipated results could contribute to assessing potential factors that impact the reintegration processes of ex-combatants.