Compelling evidence that exposure therapy for PTSD normalizes brain function

Michael J. Roy, Michelle E. Costanzo, Robert James Blair, Albert A. Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is helping us better understand the neurologic pathways involved in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We previously reported that military service members with PTSD after deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan demonstrated significant improvement, or normalization, in the fMRI-measured activation of the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus following exposure therapy for PTSD. However, our original study design did not include repeat scans of control participants, rendering it difficult to discern how much of the observed normalization in brain activity is attributable to treatment, rather than merely a practice effect. Using the same Affective Stroop task paradigm, we now report on a larger sample of PTSD-positive combat veterans that we treated with exposure therapy, as well as a combat-exposed control group of service members who completed repeat scans at 3-4 month intervals. Findings from the treatment group are similar to our prior report. Combat controls showed no significant change on repeat scanning, indicating that the observed differences in the intervention group were in fact due to treatment. We continue to scan additional study participants, in order to determine whether virtual reality exposure therapy has a different impact on regional brain activation than other therapies for PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-65
Number of pages5
JournalAnnual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine
Volume12
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Implosive Therapy
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Brain
Chemical activation
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Virtual reality
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Stroop Test
Afghanistan
Iraq
Gyrus Cinguli
Scanning
Veterans
Therapeutics
Amygdala
Prefrontal Cortex
Nervous System
Control Groups

Keywords

  • Combat stress
  • Exposure therapy
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Vrtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Compelling evidence that exposure therapy for PTSD normalizes brain function. / Roy, Michael J.; Costanzo, Michelle E.; Blair, Robert James; Rizzo, Albert A.

In: Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Vol. 12, 2014, p. 61-65.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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