Sensory filtering phenomenology in PTSD

Depress Anxiety. 2008;25(1):38-45. doi: 10.1002/da.20255.


Disrupted sensory filtering, or problems with suppressing irrelevant environmental sensory stimuli, has been reported in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the relationship of sensory filtering deficits to specific PTSD symptoms versus an association with general trauma exposure is unclear. These relationships were examined by administering self-report measures of trauma exposure, PTSD, and sensory gating phenomenology to undergraduate participants with PTSD (n=32), with trauma history but without PTSD (n=144), and with minimal trauma history (n=153). Subjects with PTSD reported greater filtering disruption than individuals in the trauma only and low trauma groups, who did not differ. Individuals endorsing reexperiencing and numbing symptoms, and females endorsing hypervigilance, reported disrupted sensory filtering phenomenology. These results suggest that impaired filtering differentiates between individuals with PTSD symptoms and asymptomatic individuals exposed to multiple traumas and low-trauma controls.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Blinking / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires