Reduced default mode network connectivity following combat trauma

Neurosci Lett. 2016 Feb 26;615:37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.01.010. Epub 2016 Jan 12.


Recent studies show decreased functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) in PTSD; however, few have directly examined combat trauma specifically. There is limited understanding of how combat itself may affect the DMN. Some literature suggests that trauma exposure, rather than PTSD, can disrupt the DMN. To further elucidate the effect of trauma and PTSD on the DMN, we investigated DMN functional connectivity during the resting-state in veterans with PTSD, combat-exposed controls, and never-traumatized healthy controls. Results revealed that DMN connectivity was reduced in veterans exposed to combat trauma with and without PTSD compared to healthy civilian controls. Specifically, both groups of veterans demonstrated weaker connectivity within a network involving the precuneus, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and right superior parietal lobule regardless of whether the mPFC or precuneus was chosen as a seed region. Findings suggest that the experience of trauma, rather than the pathology of PTSD, may be related to DMN changes.

Keywords: Combat; DMN; PTSD; Rest; Trauma; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • War-Related Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult