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J Neural Eng. 2010 Dec;7(6):066005. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/7/6/066005. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Post-traumatic stress disorder: a right temporal lobe syndrome?

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  • 1Psychology Section, US Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (116B), Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA.


In a recent paper (Georgopoulos et al 2010 J. Neural Eng. 7 016011) we reported on the power of the magnetoencephalography (MEG)-based synchronous neural interactions (SNI) test to differentiate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) subjects from healthy control subjects and to classify them with a high degree of accuracy. Here we show that the main differences in cortical communication circuitry between these two groups lie in the miscommunication of temporal and parietal and/or parieto-occipital right hemispheric areas with other brain areas. This lateralized temporal-posterior pattern of miscommunication was very similar but was attenuated in patients with PTSD in remission. These findings are consistent with observations (Penfield 1958 Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 44 51-66, Penfield and Perot 1963 Brain 86 595-696, Gloor 1990 Brain 113 1673-94, Banceaud et al 1994 Brain 117 71-90, Fried 1997 J. Neuropsychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 9 420-8) that electrical stimulation of the temporal cortex in awake human subjects, mostly in the right hemisphere, can elicit the re-enactment and re-living of past experiences. Based on these facts, we attribute our findings to the re-experiencing component of PTSD and hypothesize that it reflects an involuntarily persistent activation of interacting neural networks involved in experiential consolidation.

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