Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that may develop after experiencing a traumatic event. Combat exposure increases an individual's chance of developing PTSD, making veterans especially susceptible to the disorder. PTSD is characterized by dysregulated emotional networks, memory deficits, and a hyperattentive response to perceived threatening stimuli. Recently, there have been a number of imaging studies that show structural and functional abnormalities associated with PTSD; however, there have been few studies utilizing electroencephalography (EEG). The goal of this study was to characterize **EEG brain dynamics in individuals with PTSD, in order to better understand the neurophysiological underpinnings of some of the salient features of PTSD, such as threat-processing bias. Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom completed an implicit visual threat semantic memory recognition task with stimuli that varied on both category (animals, items, nature, and people) and feature (threatening and nonthreatening) membership, including trauma-related stimuli. Combat veterans with PTSD had slower reaction times for the threatening stimuli relative to the combat veterans without PTSD (VETC). There were trauma-specific effects in frontal regions, with theta band EEG power reductions for the threatening combat scenes in the PTSD patients compared to the VETC group. Additionally, a moderate negative correlation was observed between trauma-specific frontal theta power and hyperarousal symptoms as measured by clinically administered PTSD scale. These findings complement and extend current models of cortico-limbic dysfunction in PTSD. The moderate negative correlation between frontal theta power and hyperarousal endorsements suggests the utility of these measures as therapeutic markers of symptomatology in PTSD patients.
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- threat processing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology