Early Affective Processing in Patients with Acute Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Magnetoencephalographic Correlates

Background: In chronic PTSD, a preattentive neural alarm system responds rapidly to emotional information, leading to increased prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation at early processing stages (<100 ms). Enhanced PFC responses are followed by a reduction in occipito-temporal activity during late...

Authors: Burgmer, Markus
Rehbein, Maimu Alissa Rhea
Wrenger, Marco
Kandil, Judith
Heuft, Gereon
Steinberg, Christian
Pfleiderer, Bettina
Junghöfer, Markus
Division/Institute:FB 05: Medizinische Fakultät
Document types:Article
Media types:Text
Publication date:2013
Date of publication on miami:17.02.2014
Modification date:24.01.2020
Edition statement:[Electronic ed.]
Source:PLoS ONE 8 (2013) 8, e71289
DDC Subject:610: Medizin und Gesundheit
License:CC BY 3.0
Language:English
Notes:Finanziert durch den Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2013/2014 der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) und der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU Münster).
Format:PDF document
URN:urn:nbn:de:hbz:6-64319531729
Permalink:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:hbz:6-64319531729
Other Identifiers:DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071289
Digital documents:journal.pone.0071289.pdf

Background: In chronic PTSD, a preattentive neural alarm system responds rapidly to emotional information, leading to increased prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation at early processing stages (<100 ms). Enhanced PFC responses are followed by a reduction in occipito-temporal activity during later processing stages. However, it remains unknown if this neuronal pattern is a result of a long lasting mental disorder or if it represents changes in brain function as direct consequences of severe trauma.Methodology: The present study investigates early fear network activity in acutely traumatized patients with PTSD. It focuses on the question whether dysfunctions previously observed in chronic PTSD patients are already present shortly after trauma exposure. We recorded neuromagnetic activity towards emotional pictures in seven acutely traumatized PTSD patients between one and seven weeks after trauma exposure and compared brain responses to a balanced healthy control sample. Inverse modelling served for mapping sources of differential activation in the brain.Principal Findings: Compared to the control group, acutely traumatized PTSD patients showed an enhanced PFC response to high-arousing pictures between 60 to 80 ms. This rapid prefrontal hypervigilance towards arousing pictorial stimuli was sustained during 120–300 ms, where it was accompanied by a reduced affective modulation of occipito-temporal neural processing.Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the hypervigilance-avoidance pattern seen in chronic PTSD is not necessarily a product of an endured mental disorder, but arises as an almost immediate result of severe traumatisation. Thus, traumatic experiences can influence emotion processing strongly, leading to long-lasting changes in trauma network activation and expediting a chronic manifestation of maladaptive cognitive and behavioral symptoms.