Increased anterior cingulate cortex and hippocampus activation in Complex PTSD during encoding of negative words

K. Thomaes, E. Dorrepaal, N. Draijer, M.B. de Ruiter, B.M. Elzinga, Z. Sjoerds, A.J.L.M. van Balkom, J.H. Smit, D.J. Veltman

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with impaired memory performance coupled with functional changes in brain areas involved in declarative memory and emotion regulation. It is not yet clear how symptom severity and comorbidity affect neurocognitive functioning in PTSD. We performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study with an emotional declarative memory task in 28 Complex PTSD patients with comorbid depressive and personality disorders, and 21 healthy nontrauma-exposed controls. In Complex PTSD patients-compared to controls-encoding of later remembered negative words vs baseline was associated with increased blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response in the left ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsal ACC extending to the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) together with a trend for increased left hippocampus activation. Patients tended to commit more False Alarms to negative words compared to controls, which was associated with enhanced left ventrolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex (vlPFC/OFC) responses. Severity of child abuse was positively correlated with left ventral ACC activity and severity of depression with (para) hippocampal and ventral ACC activity. Presented results demonstrate functional abnormalities in Complex PTSD in the frontolimbic brain circuit also implicated in fear conditioning models, but generally in the opposite direction, which may be explained by severity of the trauma and severity of comorbid depression in Complex PTSD.©The Author (2011). Published by Oxford University Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190-200
    JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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