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Review
, 9 (1), 1-14

Potential Role of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex in PTSD: Review and Hypothesis

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  • PMID: 9989344
Review

Potential Role of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex in PTSD: Review and Hypothesis

M B Hamner et al. Depress Anxiety.

Abstract

Many symptoms of PTSD represent conditioned responses to stimuli associated with a traumatic experiences. In this review, we propose that the anterior cingulate--a brain region that appears to be involved in fear-conditioning--is dysfunctional in PTSD, thus facilitating exaggerated emotional and behavioral responses (hyperarousal) to conditioned stimuli. Preclinical studies suggest that the anterior cingulate may serve a critical gating function in modulating conditioned fear responses. As such, this region would be a key component of a neural circuit involved in the pathophysiology of PTSD. An amygdala-locus coeruleus-anterior cingulate circuit may be consistent with evidence for chronic noradrenergic activation documented in PTSD patients. According to this model, efferent noradrenergic projections from the locus coeruleus may dampen anterior cingulate function. This in turn would allow myriad external or internally driven stimuli to produce the exaggerated emotional and behavioral responses characteristic of PTSD. If confirmed in future research, cingulate dysfunction would have important theoretical and treatment implications.

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