Altered default mode network connectivity in adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder

Neuroimage Clin. 2019:22:101731. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101731. Epub 2019 Feb 22.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by intrusions, re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal. These symptoms might be linked to dysfunction in core neurocognitive networks subserving self-referential mental processing (default mode network, DMN), detection of salient stimuli (salience network, SN) and cognitive dysfunction (central executive network, CEN). Resting state studies in adolescent PTSD are scarce and findings are inconsistent, probably due to differences in patient symptom severity. Resting state brain activity was measured in 14 adolescents with severe PTSD and 24 age-matched controls. Seed-based connectivity analyses were used to examine connectivity between the DMN and the whole brain, including regions from other networks (SN and CEN). The relationships of network properties with symptom dimensions (severity, anxiety and depression) and episodic memory were also examined. Analyses revealed decreased within-DMN connectivity (between PCC and occipital cortex) in patients compared to controls. Furthermore, within-DMN connectivity (between PCC and hippocampus) correlated negatively with symptom dimensions (severity and anxiety), while increased connectivity (DMN-SN and DMN-CEN) correlated positively with episodic memory measures. These abnormal network properties found in adolescent PTSD corroborate those previously reported in adult PTSD. Decreased within-DMN connectivity and disrupted DMN-SN and DMN-CEN coupling could form the basis for intrusive trauma recollection and impaired episodic autobiographical recall in PTSD.

Keywords: Default mode network; Episodic memory; Functional connectivity; Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / trends
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology