Increased activation of the left hippocampus region in Complex PTSD during encoding and recognition of emotional words: A pilot study

K. Thomaes, E. Dorrepaal, P.J. Draijer, M. Ruiter, B.N. Elzinga, A.J.L.M. van Balkom, P.L.M. Smoor, J.H. Smit, D.J. Veltman, Bernet M. Elzinga

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To gain insight into memory disturbances in Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD), we investigated declarative memory function and medial temporal lobe activity in patients and healthy non-traumatized controls. A case-control study was performed in nine patients with Complex PTSD and nine controls. All respondents performed a declarative memory task with neutral and emotional, negative words during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Memory performance of neutral words was impaired in Complex PTSD with a relative conservation of recall of negative words. Deep encoding of later remembered negative words, as well as correct recognition of negative words and false alarms, was associated with an enhanced Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) response in the left hippocampus extending into the parahippocampal gyrus of Complex PTSD patients compared with controls. Post-hoc volumetric comparisons did not reveal significant anatomical differences in the medial temporal lobe between Complex PTSD patients and controls. We conclude that in Complex PTSD preferential recall of negative words is associated with increased activation in the left hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus during both successful and false recall. These findings support a model of an abnormally functioning hippocampus in Complex PTSD. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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