Cortical thickness and PTSD

Proposal details

Title: Cortical thickness, subcortical volumes, neurocognition, and symptom severity in PTSD
Research Area(s): PTSD and other Anxiety Disorders
Background: Most imaging studies in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have focused on assessing morphological changes in the brain. Functional and structural abnormalities in regions associated with emotion and memory processing, such as the amygdala, hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) have been reported. These changes have been linked to neurocognitive deficits, particularly in memory. However, few studies have investigated cortical thickness in individuals with PTSD. Those that have, have provided evidence for reduced cortical thickness in individuals with PTSD, compared to healthy controls and trauma-exposed individuals without PTSD. There is also evidence that certain genetic variants, such as the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism, may be linked to brain volumes and associated alterations in neurocognition. To our knowledge, no studies have investigated the relationship between cortical thickness, neurocognition, and PTSD symptom severity against the backdrop of BDNF gene variation in adults or adolescents with PTSD. Objective The aim of the present study will be to investigate cortical thickness in PTSD, both in adults and adolescents, and its relationship to subcortical volumes (hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate), PTSD symptom severity, severity of neurocognitive deficits and BDNF.
Aims: Hypotheses In individuals with PTSD, carriers of the val66met variant of BDNF will be at particular risk for cortical thinning, decreased hippocampal, amygdala and ACC volume, and associated memory impairments. In adults and adolescents with PTSD, reduced cortical thickness will be related to reduced subcortical volumes, PTSD symptom severity, and poorer neuropsychological functioning, compared to those without PTSD.
Method: BrainNet data will be utilised to examine the research question in adults and adolescents with and without PTSD.