A meta-analysis of structural brain abnormalities in PTSD

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(7):1004-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2006.03.004. Epub 2006 May 26.


This series of meta-analyses examined structural abnormalities of the hippocampus and other brain regions in persons with PTSD compared to trauma-exposed and non-exposed control groups. The findings were significantly smaller hippocampal volumes in persons with PTSD compared to controls with and without trauma exposure, but group differences were moderated by MRI methodology, PTSD severity, medication, age and gender. Trauma-exposed persons without PTSD also showed significantly smaller bilateral hippocampal compared to non-exposed controls. Meta-analyses also found significantly smaller left amygdala volumes in adults with PTSD compared to both healthy and trauma-exposed controls, and significantly smaller anterior cingulate cortex compared to trauma-exposed controls. Pediatric samples with PTSD exhibited significantly smaller corpus callosum and frontal lobe volumes compared to controls, but there were no group differences in hippocampal volume. The overall findings suggested a dimensional, developmental psychopathology systems model in which: (1) hippocampal volumetric differences covary with PTSD severity; (2) hippocampal volumetric differences do not become apparent until adulthood; and (3) PTSD is associated with abnormalities in multiple frontal-limbic system structures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Brain / abnormalities*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / pathology*