Resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) is an emerging means of understanding the neurobiology of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, most rsFC studies to date have limited focus to cognitively related intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs), have not applied data-driven methodologies or have disregarded the effect of combat exposure. In this study, we predicted that group independent component analysis (GICA) would reveal group-wise differences in rsFC across 50 active duty service members with PTSD, 28 combat-exposed controls (CEC), and 25 civilian controls without trauma exposure (CC). Intranetwork connectivity differences were identified across 11 ICNs, yet combat-exposed groups were indistinguishable in PTSD vs CEC contrasts. Both PTSD and CEC demonstrated anatomically diffuse differences in the Auditory Vigilance and Sensorimotor networks compared to CC. However, intranetwork connectivity in a subset of three regions was associated with PTSD symptom severity among executive (left insula; ventral anterior cingulate) and right Fronto-Parietal (perigenual cingulate) networks. Furthermore, we found that increased temporal synchronization among visuospatial and sensorimotor networks was associated with worse avoidance symptoms in PTSD. Longitudinal neuroimaging studies in combat-exposed cohorts can further parse PTSD-related, combat stress-related or adaptive rsFC changes ensuing from combat.
Keywords: PTSD; combat; military; resting-state; stress.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.