Amygdala functional connectivity in the acute aftermath of trauma prospectively predicts severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms: Functional connectivity predicts future PTSD symptoms

Emily L. Belleau, Lauren E. Ehret, Jessica L. Hanson, Karen J. Brasel, Christine L. Larson, Terri A. deRoon-Cassini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding neural mechanisms that confer risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is critical for earlier intervention, yet longitudinal work has been sparse. The amygdala is part of a core network consistently implicated in PTSD symptomology. Most neural models of PTSD have focused on the amygdala's interactions with the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. However, an increasing number of studies have linked PTSD symptoms to aberrations in amygdala functional connections with other brain regions involved in emotional information processing, self-referential processing, somatosensory processing, visual processing, and motor control. In the current study, trauma-exposed individuals (N = 54) recruited from the emergency department completed a resting state fMRI scan as well as a script-driven trauma recall fMRI task scan two-weeks post-trauma along with demographic, PTSD, and other clinical symptom questionnaires two-weeks and six-months post-trauma. We examined whether amygdala-whole brain functional connectivity (FC) during rest and task could predict six-month post-trauma PTSD symptoms. More negative amygdala-cerebellum and amygdala-postcentral gyrus FC during rest as well as more negative amygdala-postcentral gyrus and amygdala-midcingulate cortex during recall of the trauma memory predicted six-month post-trauma PTSD after controlling for scanner type. Follow-up multiple regression sensitivity analyses controlling for several other relevant predictors of PTSD symptoms, revealed that amygdala-cerebellum FC during rest and amygdala-postcentral gyrus FC during trauma recall were particularly robust predictors of six-month PTSD symptoms. The results extend cross-sectional studies implicating abnormal FC of the amygdala with other brain regions involved in somatosensory processing, motor control, and emotional information processing in PTSD, to the prospective prediction of risk for chronic PTSD. This work may contribute to earlier identification of at-risk individuals and elucidate potential intervention targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100217
JournalNeurobiology of Stress
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Functional connectivity
  • Longitudinal study
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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