Resting-State Neurophysiological Abnormalities in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Magnetoencephalography Study

Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Apr 25;11:205. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00205. eCollection 2017.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating psychiatric condition that is common in veterans returning from combat operations. While the symptoms of PTSD have been extensively characterized, the neural mechanisms that underlie PTSD are only vaguely understood. In this study, we examined the neurophysiology of PTSD using magnetoencephalography (MEG) in a sample of veterans with and without PTSD. Our primary hypothesis was that veterans with PTSD would exhibit aberrant activity across multiple brain networks, especially those involving medial temporal and frontal regions. To this end, we examined a total of 51 USA combat veterans with a battery of clinical interviews and tests. Thirty-one of the combat veterans met diagnostic criteria for PTSD and the remaining 20 did not have PTSD. All participants then underwent high-density MEG during an eyes-closed resting-state task, and the resulting data were analyzed using a Bayesian image reconstruction method. Our results indicated that veterans with PTSD had significantly stronger neural activity in prefrontal, sensorimotor and temporal areas compared to those without PTSD. Veterans with PTSD also exhibited significantly stronger activity in the bilateral amygdalae, parahippocampal and hippocampal regions. Conversely, healthy veterans had stronger neural activity in the bilateral occipital cortices relative to veterans with PTSD. In conclusion, these data suggest that veterans with PTSD exhibit aberrant neural activation in multiple cortical areas, as well as medial temporal structures implicated in affective processing.

Keywords: MEG; PTSD; magnetoencephalography (MEG); posttraumatic stress disorder; resting-state.