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Stress. 2003 Sep;6(3):151-6.

Neural correlates of traumatic recall in posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Psychiatry Service, Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center, MI 48109, USA.


Functional activation studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using symptom provocation paradigms have implicated dysfunction in limbic and paralimbic brain regions. Increased or altered cerebral blood flow has been observed in amygdala and insula. Decreased or absent activity has been seen in medial prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). These brain regions comprise a neural circuit that has been demonstrated as important for emotional processing and emotional regulation. We studied combat veterans with PTSD (n=16), combat veterans without PTSD (combat controls, n=15), and age-matched healthy control subjects (n=15) with [O-15] H2O PET under a script-driven imagery paradigm of personalized traumatic/stressful and emotionally neutral events. Preliminary findings show that PTSD patients and combat controls had differential blood flow patterns during emotional recall in amygdala, insula and medial prefrontal cortex. Consistent with and extending prior findings, these preliminary results replicate differential patterns of activation in limbic and paralimbic regions of PTSD patients and trauma exposed controls suggesting that these neural substrates may be involved in the deficits in emotional processing in PTSD on one hand, and in resilience to trauma on the other.

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