Objective biomarkers of the presence and severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are elusive, yet badly needed. Electroencephalographic (EEG) coherence represents a promising approach to identifying and understanding brain biomarker activity in PTSD. Overnight polysomnography data containing EEG across sleep and wake states was collected in n = 76 Veterans with and without PTSD from a single site under IRB approval. Brain coherence markers (BCM) were calculated from EEG signals using a novel approach to produce one index for PTSD diagnosis (PTSD dx ), and another index for PTSD severity (PTSD sev ). PTSD dx showed strong sensitivity to the presence of PTSD in the awake state, during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage N2 sleep, and in a hybrid BCM incorporating both awake and NREM sleep states. PTSD sev showed a strong correlation with PTSD symptom severity (using the PTSD Checklist 5, or PCL5 survey) in the awake state, during N2 sleep, and in a hybrid BCM incorporating both awake and NREM sleep states. Thus, sleep EEG-based brain coherence markers can be utilized as an objective means for determining the presence and severity of PTSD. This portable, inexpensive, and non-invasive tool holds promise for better understanding the physiological mechanisms underlying PTSD and for tracking objective responses to treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas