Time Emotion and PTSD

Proposal details

Title: Exploring the linking between time processing and the neural circuitry for reward/emotional processing in PTSD.
Research Area(s): PTSD and other Anxiety Disorders
Background: Accurate temporal estimations are essential to face the surrounding variety of everyday situations (Vicario et al., 2016, Psychological research). This implies that an alteration of timing skills might compromise the quality of life is several situations with a negative impact on quality of life. Scholars have identified several neural structures sub-serving time keeping mechanisms, such as the prefrontal cortex (e.g., Lewis and Miall, 2006, Trends Cogn Sci.), the insula cortex (Craig, 2009, Nat Rev Neurosci.) and basal ganglia (Lewis and Miall, 2006, Trends Cogn Sci. See also Wiener et al., 2010, Neuroimage for a meta analysis). Moreover, evidence implicates the key role of dopaminergic function in time keeping (Meck, 1996, Brain Research, Cognitive Brain Research; Lewis and Miall, 2006, Trends Cogn Sci). Interestingly, dopamine as well as the neural structures mentioned above have been identified to play a key role in the processing of affective and reward related outcomes (see Shultz et al., 1997, Science; Davison et al., 2000, Science; Wicker et al., 2003, Neuron). In the current project we propose to explore time keeping ability in participants affected by PTSD, given the evidence of similar neurofunctional/structural (i.e., with regard to the insula and basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex, Felmingham et al, 2014, PlosOne), and neurochemical (Segman et al., 2002, Mol. Psychiatry) alterations, in this clinical population. We will compare the timing performance between PTSD participants and healthy controls. We will investigate any relationship between the available structural MRI data ERP measures during emotion processing and the timing performance.
Aims: This project aims to examine the relationship between timing skills, structural integrity of affect and reward networks in PTSD compared to controls. We expected alteration in Time processing skills of PTSD, compared to healthy controls, which correlates with structural abnormalities (as reported via MRI) in correspondence of the affective/reward neural structures. similar correlations are expected for the emotion related ERP measures.
Method: Group comparisons on timing task and correlation analyses including structural MRI and ERP measures.