Recall of emotional states in posttraumatic stress disorder: an fMRI investigation

Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Feb 1;53(3):204-10. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(02)01466-x.


Background: The goal of this study was to examine the neuronal circuitry underlying different emotional states (neutral, sad, anxious, and traumatic) in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized subjects versus traumatized subjects without PTSD.

Methods: Traumatized subjects with (n = 10) and without (n = 10) PTSD were studied using the script-driven symptom provocation paradigm adapted to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at a 4 Tesla field strength.

Results: Compared to the trauma-exposed comparison group, PTSD subjects showed significantly less activation of the thalamus and the anterior cingulate gyrus (area 32) in all three emotional states (sad, anxious, and traumatic).

Conclusion: These findings suggest thalamic and anterior cingulate dysfunction in the recollection of traumatic as well as other negative events. Thalamic and anterior cingulate dysfunction may underlie emotion dysregulation often observed clinically in PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / pathology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Thalamus / pathology
  • Thalamus / physiopathology