Functional neuroimaging of emotionally intense autobiographical memories in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects regions that support autobiographical memory (AM) retrieval, such as the hippocampus, amygdala and ventral medial prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, it is not well understood how PTSD may impact the neural mechanisms of memory retrieval for the personal past. We used a generic cue method combined with parametric modulation analysis and functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate the neural mechanisms affected by PTSD symptoms during the retrieval of a large sample of emotionally intense AMs. There were three main results. First, the PTSD group showed greater recruitment of the amygdala/hippocampus during the construction of negative versus positive emotionally intense AMs, when compared to controls. Second, across both the construction and elaboration phases of retrieval the PTSD group showed greater recruitment of the ventral medial PFC for negatively intense memories, but less recruitment for positively intense memories. Third, the PTSD group showed greater functional coupling between the ventral medial PFC and the amygdala for negatively intense memories, but less coupling for positively intense memories. In sum, the fMRI data suggest that there was greater recruitment and coupling of emotional brain regions during the retrieval of negatively intense AMs in the PTSD group when compared to controls.
St Jacques, PL; Botzung, A; Miles, A; Rubin, DC
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