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J Trauma Stress. 2004 Dec;17(6):485-96.

Integration of psychological and biological approaches to trauma memory: implications for pharmacological prevention of PTSD.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Although memory processes play a central role in both psychological and neurobiological accounts of the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there has been little integration of the two literatures. This paper aims to consider the implications of an integrated account of trauma memory for pharmacological treatments that have been proposed for the prevention of PTSD. The idea of reprocessing trauma memories to bring about recovery, central to the psychological account of PTSD, is translated into terms more familiar in the biological literature using the concept of reconsolidation of active memories. It is suggested that physiological arousal enhances the reprocessing of trauma memories. Drugs that influence arousal may have effects after trauma which depend on the psychosocial context, helping to prevent the development of PTSD in some trauma victims, but impeding recovery in others who would do well without treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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