Thinner prefrontal cortex in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder

Neuroimage. 2008 Jul 1;41(3):675-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.03.007. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Structural neuroimaging studies in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have focused primarily on structural alterations in the medial temporal lobe, and only a few have examined grey matter reductions in the cortex. Recent advances in computational analysis provide new opportunities to use semi-automatic techniques to determine cortical thickness, but these techniques have not yet been applied in PTSD. Twenty-five male veterans with PTSD and twenty-five male veterans without PTSD matched for age, year and region of deployment were recruited. All the subjects were scanned using MRI. Subjects' brains were aligned using cortex-based alignment in a region of interest based approach. Individual cortical thickness maps were calculated from the MR images. Regions of interest examined included the bilateral superior frontal gyri, bilateral middle frontal gyri, bilateral inferior frontal gyri, bilateral superior temporal gyri, and bilateral middle temporal gyri. In a large number of patients and controls, IQ scores and memory scores were also obtained. Individual cortical thickness maps were calculated from the MR images. Veterans with PTSD revealed reduced cortical thickness in the bilateral superior and middle frontal gyri, the left inferior frontal gyrus, and the left superior temporal gyrus. Veterans with PTSD performed significantly worse on memory measures compared to control veterans. Cortical thickness correlated with memory measures in the veterans without PTSD, but not in the veterans with PTSD. Cortical thinning in these regions may thus correspond to functional abnormalities observed in patients with PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / pathology*
  • Veterans