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Depress Anxiety. 2006;23(1):17-25.

Regional differences of the prefrontal cortex in pediatric PTSD: an MRI study.

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  • 1Stanford Early Life Stress Research Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California 94305-5719, USA.


Previous studies have revealed altered structural development of the frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex (PFC) in children with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study is the first to provide a detailed structural analysis of the PFC in children with and without PTSD symptoms. We compared gray and white matter volume in four subregions of the PFC between said groups, then explored whether volume was associated with PTSD symptom severity and functional impairment. PFC measurements were extracted from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from a sample of 23 children (ages 7-14) with a history of trauma and symptoms of PTSD, who had undergone assessment for PTSD symptoms and functional impairment using the Child and Adolescent version of the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-CA). These measurements were compared to data from an age-equivalent control group of 24 healthy children. Children with PTSD symptoms showed a significantly larger volume of gray matter in the delineated middle-inferior and ventral regions of the PFC than did control children. Decreased volume of gray matter in the dorsal PFC correlated with increased functional impairment scores. Results indicate that increased volume of the middle-inferior and ventral PFC may be associated with trauma and PTSD symptoms in children. Furthermore, the neuroanatomy of the dorsal PFC may influence the degree of functional impairment experienced by children with PTSD symptoms.

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