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Psychiatry Res. 2011 Aug 30;193(2):93-100. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2011.01.013. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Changes in brain anatomy during the course of posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA ,CA 94121 United States. valerie.cardenas-nicolson@ucsf.edu

Abstract

The goal of this study was to determine whether posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was associated with an increase in time-related decline in macrostructural brain volume and whether these changes were associated with accelerated cognitive decline. To quantify brain structure, three-dimensional T1-weighted MRI scans were performed at baseline and again after a minimum of 24months in 25 patients with PTSD (PTSD+) and 22 controls (PTSD-). Longitudinal changes in brain volume were measured using deformation morphometry. For the group as a whole, PTSD+ patients did not show significant ongoing brain atrophy compared to PTSD-. PTSD+ patients were then subgrouped into those with decreasing or increasing symptoms. We found little evidence for brain markers of accelerated atrophy in PTSD+ veterans whose symptoms improved over time, with only a small left parietal region showing greater ongoing tissue loss than PTSD-. PTSD patients whose symptoms increased over time showed accelerated atrophy throughout the brain, particularly brainstem and frontal and temporal lobes. Lastly, for the sample as a whole, greater rates of brain atrophy were associated with greater rates of decline in verbal memory and delayed facial recognition.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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