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J Psychiatr Res. 2019 May;112:30-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.02.015. Epub 2019 Feb 26.

Behavioral and neural correlates of memory suppression in PTSD.

Author information

1
National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: drsulliv@bu.edu.
2
National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Department of Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
4
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Louisville, KY, USA; Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, University of Louisville, KY, USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Memory Disorders Research Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA.
6
National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

Previous work has shown that healthy individuals can actively suppress emotional memories through recruitment of the lateral prefrontal cortex. By contrast, individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently experience unwanted memories of their traumatic experiences, even when making explicit efforts to avoid them. However, little is known regarding the behavioral and neural effects of memory suppression among individuals with PTSD. We examined memory suppression associated with PTSD using the Think-No-Think paradigm in an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. We studied three groups: PTSD (n = 16), trauma exposure without PTSD (n = 19), and controls (i.e., no trauma exposure or PTSD; n = 13). There was a main effect of memory suppression such that participants remembered fewer face-picture pairs during the suppress condition than the remember condition. However, trauma-exposed participants (regardless of PTSD status) were less likely to successfully suppress memory than non-trauma-exposed controls. Neuroimaging data revealed that trauma-exposed individuals showed reduced activation in the right middle frontal gyrus during memory suppression. These results suggest that trauma exposure is associated with neural and behavioral disruptions in memory suppression and point to the possibility that difficulty in active suppression of memories may be just one of several likely factors contributing to the development of PTSD.

KEYWORDS:

PTSD; Prefrontal cortex; Suppression; fMRI

PMID:
30844595
PMCID:
PMC6440538
[Available on 2020-05-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.02.015

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