Evaluating the Contribution of EEG Power Profiles to Characterize and Discriminate Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Factors in a Combat-Exposed Population

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2018 Nov;49(6):379-387. doi: 10.1177/1550059418767583. Epub 2018 Apr 3.


This study investigated the use of resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) data to help differentiate posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom factors. The sample, 147 combat-exposed OIF/OEF (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom) Veterans and service members, was a polytrauma population with variable PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) diagnoses. Participants completed the PTSD Checklist (PCL) and resting-state EEG was assessed for 10 minutes, with eyes closed. Regional averages of absolute power in alpha, beta, delta, and theta frequency bands were computed to estimate a single EEG common factor per band. An oblique 4 common-factor model was then fit to the 17 PCL items that included a residual EEG factor as an exogenous predictor with the group mean effect of mTBI on the EEG factor removed. Separate comparative model testing sequences for the alpha, beta, delta, and theta EEG factor frequency bands were conducted. An inverse relationship of delta and theta frequency bands on avoidance and numbing symptom factors (but not re-experiencing and hyperarousal) was found. Results provide evidence for possible neurobiological basis for the 4 PTSD symptom factors.

Keywords: EEG; military; posttraumatic stress symptoms; structural equation modeling; traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Young Adult