Structural connectivity and risk for anhedonia after trauma: A prospective study and replication.
ABSTRACT: Anhedonia emerges in some people after psychological trauma, reflected by a loss of interest, diminished affect, and detachment. Structural abnormalities in specific neural pathways at the time of trauma may influence the development of these posttraumatic anhedonia (PTA) symptoms. In this prospective study, we determined whether white matter connectivity at around one month post-trauma predicts PTA and other PTSD symptoms at six months post-trauma. Thirty men and women aged 19-62 were recruited from the emergency department of a Level I trauma center. Participants received diffusion tensor imaging at approximately one month post-trauma and clinical assessments at one and six months post-trauma. Probabilistic tractography was used to examine connectivity of select pathways. A replication sample (N?=?57) in an independent, cross-sectional dataset of traumatized women was similarly analyzed. Logistic regression results indicated that, after accounting for early PTSD symptoms (at one month) and other clinical risk factors, the integrity of the uncinate fasciculus (UF) uniquely predicted the presence of PTA at six months post-trauma (Beta?=?-225.6, p?
Project description:Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heterogeneous disorder with disturbances in hyper-arousal or avoidance behaviors, and intrusive or re-experiencing thoughts. The uncinate fasciculus (UF) and cingulum bundle are white matter pathways implicated in stress and trauma pathophysiology, yet their structural integrity related to PTSD symptom domains is yet to be understood. Forty-four trauma-exposed young adults underwent structural and diffusion-weighted MRI. Stress and trauma exposure indices and severity of PTSD symptoms were collected and used to predict current integrity of the UF and cingulum bundle. Severity of re-experiencing PTSD symptoms was significantly related to increased fractional anisotropy (r=.469 p<.001) and decreased mean diffusivity (r=-.373, p=.013) of the right posterior cingulum bundle. No other findings emerged with respect to stress exposure or of hyper-arousal (p's>0.05) or avoidance (p's>0.2) PTSD symptoms. The posterior cingulum connects medial temporal lobe structures with visual areas in the occipital lobe and has been implicated in visual memory and self-referential thought. Increased structural connectivity along this pathway may therefore explain the emergence of re-experiencing PTSD symptoms. This along with the lack of results with respect to stress exposure suggests structural aberrations in white matter pathways are more strongly linked with the actual experience of stress-related psychological symptoms than just exposure to stress.
Project description:Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition which can develop after exposure to traumatic stressors. Seventy-five adults were recruited from the community, 25 diagnosed with PTSD along with 25 healthy and 25 trauma-exposed age- and gender-matched controls. Participants underwent clinical assessment and magnetic resonance imaging. A previous voxel based morphometry (VBM) study using the same subject cohort identified decreased grey matter (GM) volumes within frontal/subcortical brain regions including the hippocampus, amygdala, and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This study examines the microstructural integrity of white matter (WM) tracts connecting the aforementioned regions/structures. Using diffusion tensor imaging, we investigated the integrity of frontal/subcortical WM tracts between all three subject groups. Trauma exposed subjects with and without PTSD diagnosis were identified to have significant disruption in WM integrity as indexed by decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) in the uncinate fasciculus (UF), cingulum cingulate gyrus (CCG), and corpus callosum (CC), when compared with healthy non-trauma-exposed controls. Significant negative correlations were found between total Clinician Administered PTSD scale (CAPS) lifetime clinical subscores and FA values of PTSD subjects in the right UF, CCG, CC body, and right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). An analysis between UF and SLF FA values and VBM determined rostral ACC GM values found a negative correlation in PTSD subjects. Findings suggest that compromised WM integrity in important tracts connecting limbic structures such as the amygdala to frontal regions including the ACC (i.e., the UF and CCG) may contribute to impairments in threat/fear processing associated with PTSD.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Reward processing deficits have been increasingly associated with trauma exposure and are a core feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While altered resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of ventral striatal regions, including the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), has been associated with anhedonia in some stress-related disorders, relationships between NAcc rsFC and anhedonia have not previously been investigated in trauma-exposed individuals. Additionally, relationships between anhedonia and reward-related decision making remain unexplored in relation to trauma exposure. We hypothesized that elevated anhedonia would be associated with altered rsFC between NAcc and default mode network regions and with increased delay discounting. METHODS:The sample included 51 participants exposed to a DSM-IV PTSD Criterion A event related to community trauma. Participants completed the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, a computerized delay discounting paradigm, and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. rsFC data were analyzed in SPM12 and CONN. RESULTS:Higher levels of anhedonia were associated with increased rsFC between seed regions of bilateral NAcc and areas of right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. This relationship remained significant after accounting for Clinician Administered PTSD Scale total scores, Beck Depression Inventory total scores, or diagnostic group in the regression. Additionally, anhedonia was associated with elevated (increased) delay discounting. CONCLUSIONS:Greater anhedonia was related to higher positive connectivity between NAcc and right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and to increased delay discounting, i.e., greater preference for smaller immediate versus larger delayed rewards. These findings contribute to a growing body of literature emphasizing the importance of anhedonia in trauma-exposed individuals.
Project description:Introduction: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent, severe and tenacious psychopathological consequence of traumatic events. Neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying PTSD pathogenesis have been identified, and may serve as risk-resilience factors during the early aftermath of trauma exposure. Longitudinally documenting the neurobehavioral dimensions of early responses to trauma may help characterize survivors at risk and inform mechanism-based interventions. We present two independent longitudinal studies that repeatedly probed clinical symptoms and neurocognitive domains in recent trauma survivors. We hypothesized that better neurocognitive functioning shortly after trauma will be associated with less severe PTSD symptoms a year later, and that an early neurocognitive intervention will improve cognitive functioning and reduce PTSD symptoms. Methods: Participants in both studies were adult survivors of traumatic events admitted to two general hospitals' emergency departments (EDs) in Israel. The studies used identical clinical and neurocognitive tools, which included assessment of PTSD symptoms and diagnosis, and a battery of neurocognitive tests. The first study evaluated 181 trauma-exposed individuals one-, six-, and 14 months following trauma exposure. The second study evaluated 97 trauma survivors 1 month after trauma exposure, randomly allocated to 30 days of web-based neurocognitive intervention (n = 50) or control tasks (n = 47), and re-evaluated all subjects three- and 6 months after trauma exposure. Results: In the first study, individuals with better cognitive flexibility at 1 month post-trauma showed significantly less severe PTSD symptoms after 13 months (p = 0.002). In the second study, the neurocognitive training group showed more improvement in cognitive flexibility post-intervention (p = 0.019), and lower PTSD symptoms 6 months post-trauma (p = 0.017), compared with controls. Intervention- induced improvement in cognitive flexibility positively correlated with clinical improvement (p = 0.002). Discussion: Cognitive flexibility, shortly after trauma exposure, emerged as a significant predictor of PTSD symptom severity. It was also ameliorated by a neurocognitive intervention and associated with a better treatment outcome. These findings support further research into the implementation of mechanism-driven neurocognitive preventive interventions for PTSD.
Project description:Background:Symptoms of anhedonia are often central to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it is unclear how anhedonia is affected by processes induced by reliving past traumatic memories. Methods:Sixty-nine male refugees (PTSD?=?38) were interviewed and scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging while viewing positive, neutral and Scrambled Pictures after being read personalized scripts evoking an emotionally neutral memory and a traumatic memory. We further measured postprovocation state symptoms, physiological measures and PTSD symptoms. We tested whether neural activity associated with positive picture viewing in participants with PTSD was differentially affected by symptom provocation compared to controls. Results:For the pictures?>?scrambled contrast (Positive contrast), PTSD participants had significantly less activity than controls in fusiform gyrus, right inferior temporal gyrus and left middle occipital gyrus. The Positive contrast activity in fusiform gyrus scaled negatively with anhedonia symptoms in PTSD participants after controlling for total PTSD severity. Relative to the emotionally Neutral Script, the Trauma Script decreased positive picture viewing activity in posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and left calcarine gyrus, but there was no difference between PTSD participants and controls. Conclusions:We found reduced responsiveness of higher visual processing of emotionally positive pictures in PTSD. The significant correlation found between positive picture viewing activity and anhedonia suggests the reduced responsiveness to be due to the severity of anhedonia.
Project description:The amygdala is a core component in neurobiological models of stress and stress-related pathologies, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While numerous studies have reported increased amygdala activity following traumatic stress exposure and in PTSD, the findings regarding amygdala volume have been mixed. One reason for these mixed findings may be that the amygdala has been considered as a homogenous entity, while it in fact consists of several nuclei with unique cellular and connectivity profiles. Here, we investigated amygdala nuclei volumes of the basolateral and the centrocorticomedial complex in relation to PTSD symptom severity in 47 young survivors from the 2011 Norwegian terror attack 24-36 months post-trauma. PTSD symptoms were assessed 4-5, 14-15 and 24-36 months following the trauma. We found that increased PTSD symptom severity 24-36 months post-trauma was associated with volumetric reductions of all basolateral as well as the central and the medial nuclei. However, only the lateral nucleus was associated with longitudinal symptom development, and mediated the association between 4-5 months and 24-36 months post-trauma symptoms. The results suggest that the amygdala nuclei may be differentially associated with cross-sectional and longitudinal measures of PTSD symptom severity. As such, investigations of amygdala total volume may not provide an adequate index of the association between amygdala and stress-related mental illness.
Project description:Adult posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been characterized by altered fear-network connectivity. Childhood trauma is a major risk factor for adult PTSD, yet its contribution to fear-network connectivity in PTSD remains unexplored. We examined, within a single model, the contribution of childhood maltreatment, combat exposure, and combat-related posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) to resting-state connectivity (rs-FC) of the amygdala and hippocampus in military veterans.Medication-free male veterans (n = 27, average 26.6 years) with a range of PTSS completed resting-state fMRI. Measures including the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), and Combat Exposure Scale (CES) were used to predict rs-FC using multilinear regression. Fear-network seeds included the amygdala and hippocampus.Amygdala: CTQ predicted lower connectivity to ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), but greater anticorrelation with dorsal/lateral PFC. CAPS positively predicted connectivity to insula, and loss of anticorrelation with dorsomedial/dorsolateral (dm/dl)PFC. Hippocampus: CTQ predicted lower connectivity to vmPFC, but greater anticorrelation with dm/dlPFC. CES predicted greater anticorrelation, whereas CAPS predicted less anticorrelation with dmPFC.Childhood trauma, combat exposure, and PTSS differentially predict fear-network rs-FC. Childhood maltreatment may weaken ventral prefrontal-subcortical circuitry important in automatic fear regulation, but, in a compensatory manner, may also strengthen dorsal prefrontal-subcortical pathways involved in more effortful emotion regulation. PTSD symptoms, in turn, appear to emerge with the loss of connectivity in the latter pathway. These findings suggest potential mechanisms by which developmental trauma exposure leads to adult PTSD, and which brain mechanisms are associated with the emergence of PTSD symptoms.
Project description:The amygdala is a major structure that orchestrates defensive reactions to environmental threats and is implicated in hypervigilance and symptoms of heightened arousal in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The basolateral and centromedial amygdala (CMA) complexes are functionally heterogeneous, with distinct roles in learning and expressing fear behaviors. PTSD differences in amygdala-complex function and functional connectivity with cortical and subcortical structures remain unclear. Recent military veterans with PTSD (n=20) and matched trauma-exposed controls (n=22) underwent a resting-state fMRI scan to measure task-free synchronous blood-oxygen level dependent activity. Whole-brain voxel-wise functional connectivity of basolateral and CMA seeds was compared between groups. The PTSD group had stronger functional connectivity of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) complex with the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and dorsal ACC than the trauma-exposed control group (p<0.05; corrected). The trauma-exposed control group had stronger functional connectivity of the BLA complex with the left inferior frontal gyrus than the PTSD group (p<0.05; corrected). The CMA complex lacked connectivity differences between groups. We found PTSD modulates BLA complex connectivity with prefrontal cortical targets implicated in cognitive control of emotional information, which are central to explanations of core PTSD symptoms. PTSD differences in resting-state connectivity of BLA complex could be biasing processes in target regions that support behaviors central to prevailing laboratory models of PTSD such as associative fear learning. Further research is needed to investigate how differences in functional connectivity of amygdala complexes affect target regions that govern behavior, cognition, and affect in PTSD.
Project description:Several cross-sectional studies have demonstrated the relevance of DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor exon 1F region (GR-1F) for trauma-related psychopathology. We conducted a longitudinal study to examine GR-1F methylation changes over time in relation to trauma exposure and the development of post-deployment psychopathology. GR-1F methylation (52 loci) was quantified using pyrosequencing in whole blood of 92 military men 1?month before and 6?months after a 4-month deployment period to Afghanistan. GR-1F methylation overall (mean methylation and the number of methylated loci) and functional methylation (methylation at loci associated with GR exon 1F expression) measures were examined. We first investigated the effect of exposure to potentially traumatic events during deployment on these measures. Subsequently, changes in GR-1F methylation were related to changes in mental health problems (total Symptom Checklist-90 score) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms (Self-Report Inventory for PTSD). Trauma exposure during deployment was associated with an increase in all methylation measures, but development of mental health problems 6?months after deployment was only significantly associated with an increased functional methylation. Emergence of post-deployment PTSD symptoms was not related to increased functional methylation over time. Pre-deployment methylation levels did not predict post-deployment psychopathology. To our knowledge, this is the first study to prospectively demonstrate trauma-related increases in GR-1F methylation, and it shows that only increases at specific functionally relevant sites predispose for post-deployment psychopathology.
Project description:Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by altered functional connectivity of the amygdala complexes at rest. However, amygdala complex connectivity during conscious and subconscious threat processing remains to be elucidated. Here, we investigate specific connectivity of the centromedial amygdala (CMA) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) during conscious and subconscious processing of trauma-related words among individuals with PTSD (n = 26) as compared to non-trauma-exposed controls (n = 20). Psycho-physiological interaction analyses were performed using the right and left amygdala complexes as regions of interest during conscious and subconscious trauma word processing. These analyses revealed a differential, context-dependent responses by each amygdala seed during trauma processing in PTSD. Specifically, relative to controls, during subconscious processing, individuals with PTSD demonstrated increased connectivity of the CMA with the superior frontal gyrus, accompanied by a pattern of decreased connectivity between the BLA and the superior colliculus. During conscious processing, relative to controls, individuals with PTSD showed increased connectivity between the CMA and the pulvinar. These findings demonstrate alterations in amygdala subregion functional connectivity in PTSD and highlight the disruption of the innate alarm network during both conscious and subconscious trauma processing in this disorder.