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Neuropsychology. 2006 Nov;20(6):716-26.

Neuropsychological functioning in posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse.

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  • 1Mental Health Service, San Francisco Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Studies have shown differences in neuropsychological functioning between groups with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and control participants. Because individuals with PTSD often have a history of comorbid alcohol abuse, the extent to which an alcohol confound is responsible for these differences remains a concern. The current study compares neuropsychological testing scores in 4 groups of veterans with and without PTSD (PTSD+ and PTSD-, respectively) and with and without a history of alcohol abuse (ETOH+ and ETOH-, respectively): n for PTSD+/ETOH- = 30, n for PTSD+/ETOH- = 37, n for PTSD-/ETOH+ = 30, and n for PTSD-/ETOH- = 31. Results showed that PTSD, when alcohol, educational level, vocabulary, and depression are controlled for, was associated with decreased verbal memory, attention, and processing speed performance. Alcohol abuse history was associated with decreased visual memory performance. By controlling for alcohol and depression, the authors can more conclusively demonstrate that verbal memory and attention differences are associated with PTSD.

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