A cognitive neuroscience account of posttraumatic stress disorder and its treatment

Behav Res Ther. 2001 Apr;39(4):373-93. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(00)00087-5.


Recent research in the areas of animal conditioning, the neural systems underlying emotion and memory, and the effect of fear on these systems is reviewed. This evidence points to an important distinction between hippocampally-dependent and non-hippocampally-dependent forms of memory that are differentially affected by extreme stress. The cognitive science perspective is related to a recent model of posttraumatic stress disorder, dual representation theory, that also posits separate memory systems underlying vivid reexperiencing versus ordinary autobiographical memories of trauma. This view is compared with other accounts in the literature of traumatic memory processes in PTSD, and the contrasting implications for therapy are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cognitive Science
  • Fear / physiology
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Memory* / classification
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological* / physiopathology