Neural responses to emotional involuntary memories in posttraumatic stress disorder: Differences in timing and activity.
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Background:Involuntary memories are a hallmark symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but studies of the neural basis of involuntary memory retrieval in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are sparse. The study of the neural correlates of involuntary memories of stressful events in PTSD focuses on the voluntary retrieval of memories that are sometimes recalled as intrusive involuntary memories, not on involuntary retrieval while being scanned. Involuntary memory retrieval in controls has been shown to elicit activity in the parahippocampal gyrus, precuneus, inferior parietal cortex, and posterior midline regions. However, it is unknown whether involuntary memories are supported by the same mechanisms in PTSD. Because previous work has shown that both behavioral and neural responsivity is slowed in PTSD, we examined the spatiotemporal dynamics of the neural activity underlying negative and neutral involuntary memory retrieval. Methods:Twenty-one individuals with PTSD and 21 non-PTSD, trauma-exposed controls performed an involuntary memory task, while undergoing a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. Environmental sounds served as cues for well-associated pictures of negative and neutral scenes. We used a finite impulse response model to analyze temporal differences between groups in neural responses. Results:Compared with controls, participants with PTSD reported more involuntary memories, which were more emotional and more vivid, but which activated a similar network of regions. However, compared to controls, individuals with PTSD showed delayed neural responsivity in this network and increased vmPFC/ACC activity for negative > neutral stimuli. Conclusions:The similarity between PTSD and controls in neural substrates underlying involuntary memories suggests that, unlike voluntary memories, involuntary memories elicit similar activity in regions critical for memory retrieval. Further, the delayed neural responsivity for involuntary memories in PTSD suggests that factors affecting cognition in PTSD, like increased fatigue, or avoidance behaviors could do so by delaying activity in regions necessary for cognitive processing. Finally, compared to neutral memories, negative involuntary memories elicit hyperactivity in the vmPFC, whereas the vmPFC is typically shown to be hypoactive in PTSD during voluntary memory retrieval. These patterns suggest that considering both the temporal dynamics of cognitive processes as well as involuntary cognitive processes would improve existing neurobiological models of PTSD.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1016/j.nicl.2018.05.009
Publication InfoLaBar, Kevin; Rubin, David; Hall, Shana A; Brodar, Kaitlyn E; & Berntsen, Dorthe (2018). Neural responses to emotional involuntary memories in posttraumatic stress disorder: Differences in timing and activity. NeuroImage. Clinical, 19. pp. 793-804. 10.1016/j.nicl.2018.05.009. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19032.
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Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
My research focuses on understanding how emotional events modulate cognitive processes in the human brain. We aim to identify brain regions that encode the emotional properties of sensory stimuli, and to show how these regions interact with neural systems supporting social cognition, executive control, and learning and memory. To achieve this goal, we use a variety of cognitive neuroscience techniques in human subject populations. These include psychophysiological monitoring, functional magnetic
Juanita M. Kreps Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
For .pdfs of all publications click here My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory
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