Attenuation of frontal asymmetry in pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Dec 15;50(12):943-51. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(01)01218-5.


Background: Volumetric imaging research has shown abnormal brain morphology in adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when compared with matched control subjects. In this article, we present brain imaging findings from a study of children with PTSD symptoms.

Methods: Twenty-four children between the ages of 7 and 14 with a history of trauma and PTSD symptoms were assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA). The sample underwent magnetic resonance imaging in a 1.5 T scanner. Brain images were analyzed by raters blind to diagnostic status using well-standardized methods, and images were compared with age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects.

Results: The clinical group demonstrated attenuation of frontal lobe asymmetry and smaller total brain and cerebral volumes when compared with the control group. There were no statistically significant differences in hippocampal volume between clinical and control subjects.

Conclusions: Frontal lobe abnormalities may occur as a result of PTSD in children or, alternatively, be a risk factor for the development of the syndrome in this age group. The implications of the findings and their consistency with previous research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / pathology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Wechsler Scales