Aberrant neural connectivity during emotional processing associated with posttraumatic stress

Naomi Sadeh, Jeffrey M. Spielberg, Stacie L. Warren, Gregory A. Miller, Wendy Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the complexity of the brain, characterizing relations among distributed brain regions is likely essential to describing the neural instantiation of posttraumatic stress symptoms. This study examined patterns of functional connectivity among key brain regions implicated in the pathophysiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 35 trauma-exposed adults using an emotion-word Stroop task. PTSD symptom severity (particularly hyperarousal symptoms) moderated amygdala-mPFC coupling during the processing of unpleasant words, and this moderation correlated positively with reported real-world impairment and amygdala reactivity. Reexperiencing severity moderated hippocampus-insula coupling during pleasant and unpleasant words. Results provide evidence that PTSD symptoms differentially moderate functional coupling during emotional interference and underscore the importance of examining network connectivity in research on PTSD. They suggest that hyperarousal is associated with negative mPFC-amygdala coupling and that reexperiencing is associated with altered insula-hippocampus function, patterns of connectivity that may represent separable indicators of dysfunctional inhibitory control during affective processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-755
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Amygdala
  • Hippocampus
  • Hyperarousal
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Reexperiencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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