Category: PTSD


Neural Substrates of Cognitive Control in PTSD

Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom I & J, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: PTSD Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Cognitive Processes | Neuroscience
Presentation Type: Symposium

Despite the high success rates of psychosocial treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a substantial portion of individuals either do not complete or do not fully benefit from traditional interventions. Integrating knowledge of the neuroscience of PTSD with intervention approaches may facilitate the identification and evaluation of novel treatment targets (McNally, 2007). PTSD is characterized by a number of cognitive symptoms, and cognitive control be an important etiological or maintenance factor in re-experiencing symptoms (Bomyea et al., 2012), suggesting that cognitive control could be a potential intervention target. While there is preliminary evidence that computerized cognitive control training may impact symptoms (Bomyea et al., 2016), the neurobiological substrates of this paradigm have yet to be fully delineated. The current study reports data from a cognitive control paradigm, wherein participants complete a dual span task under conditions of high or low interference, completed by a group of healthy individuals (n=23) and Veterans with PTSD (n=15) during fMRI. Regions of significant neural activation in response to interference demands were examined. Participants were also given self-report questionnaires to assess symptom severity and recurrent negative thinking. Both groups recruited neural regions in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, cingulate, and occipital and temporal lobes. Controls also recruited the left inferior frontal gyrus and parietal regions, while patients with PTSD recruited the lentiform nucleus and somatosensory cortex. Within veterans with PTSD, greater activation in the dlPFC (right middle frontal gyrus) was associated with lower recurrent negative thinking, r=-.53, < .05.  Results suggest that individuals with PTSD utilize alternate neural systems, relative to controls, to engage cognitive control over information. Data provide initial validation for the use of this paradigm, and highlight the potential utility of training tasks that recruit specific prefrontal regions based on their association with problematic cognitive regulation. 

Jessica Bomyea

Postdoctoral Fellow


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Neural Substrates of Cognitive Control in PTSD

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