MEG neural signature of sexual trauma in women veterans with PTSD

Exp Brain Res. 2022 Aug;240(7-8):2135-2142. doi: 10.1007/s00221-022-06405-8. Epub 2022 Jul 4.


Previous research has documented the utility of synchronous neural interactions (SNI) in classifying women veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related outcomes based on functional connectivity using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Here, we extend that line of research to evaluate trauma-specific PTSD neural signatures with MEG in women veterans. Participants completed diagnostic interviews and underwent a task-free MEG scan from which SNI was computed. Thirty-five women veterans were diagnosed with PTSD due to sexual trauma and sixteen with PTSD due to non-sexual trauma. Strength of SNI was compared in women with and without sexual trauma, and linear discriminant analysis was used to classify the brain patterns of women with PTSD due to sexual trauma and non-sexual trauma. Comparison of SNI strength between the two groups revealed widespread hypercorrelation in women with sexual trauma relative to those without sexual trauma. Furthermore, using SNI, the brains of participants were classified as sexual trauma or non-sexual trauma with 100% accuracy. These findings bolster evidence supporting the utility of task-free SNI and suggest that neural signatures of PTSD are trauma-specific.

Keywords: Biomarker; Magnetoencephalography; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Sexual trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic*
  • Veterans*