A Network-Based Neurobiological Model of PTSD: Evidence From Structural and Functional Neuroimaging Studies

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 Sep 19;19(11):81. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0840-4.


Purpose of review: Although a fine-grained understanding of the neurobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is yet to be elucidated, the last two decades have seen a rapid growth in the study of PTSD using neuroimaging techniques. The current review summarizes important findings from functional and structural neuroimaging studies of PTSD, by primarily focusing on their relevance towards an emerging network-based neurobiological model of the disorder.

Recent findings: PTSD may be characterized by a weakly connected and hypoactive default mode network (DMN) and central executive network (CEN) that are putatively destabilized by an overactive and hyperconnected salience network (SN), which appears to have a low threshold for perceived saliency, and inefficient DMN-CEN modulation. There is considerable evidence for large-scale functional and structural network dysfunction in PTSD. Nevertheless, several limitations and gaps in the literature need to be addressed in future research.

Keywords: Central executive network; Default mode network; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Salience network; Structural MRI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Neurobiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*