Increased cognitive control and reduced emotional interference is associated with reduced PTSD symptom severity in a trauma-exposed sample: A preliminary longitudinal study

Stuart F White, Michelle E. Costanzo, Laura C. Thornton, Alita M. Mobley, Robert James Blair, Michael J. Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) show deficits in recruiting neural regions associated with cognitive control. In contrast, trauma exposed individuals (TEIs) show increased recruitment of these regions. While many individuals who experience a trauma exhibit some PTSD symptoms, relatively few develop PTSD. Despite this, no work has examined the relationship between changes in PTSD symptoms and changes in neural functioning in TEIs longitudinally. This study examined the neural correlates of changing PTSD symptom levels in TEIs. Twenty-one military service members completed the affective stroop task while undergoing fMRI within 2 months of returning from deployment and a second scan 6–12 months later. Participants with PTSD or depression at baseline were excluded. PTSD symptom improvement was associated with greater increase in response to incongruent relative to congruent negative stimuli in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula and increased BOLD response over time to emotional relative to neutral stimuli in inferior parietal cortex. Improvement in PTSD symptoms were not associated with changes in amygdala responsiveness to emotional stimuli. In short, the current data indicate that TEIs who become more able to recruit regions implicated in cognitive control show greater reductions in PTSD symptom levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
StatePublished - Aug 30 2018



  • Affective stroop
  • Attentional control
  • Emotion regulation
  • Longitudinal
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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