Imaging Shows Impact of PTSD in Earthquake Survivors


Patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) demonstrated alterations of cerebral structure, including increased cortical thickness in the right superior temporal gyrus, right inferior parietal lobule, and the left precuneus, and decreased volume of posterior corpus callosum, according to new research published online in the journal, Radiology.

Shiguang Li, M.D., from the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Sichuan, and colleagues recruited 67 patients with PTSD and 78 adult survivors without PTSD seven to 15 months after a devastating earthquake in western China. Averaged data from the regions with volumetric or cortical thickness differences between groups were extracted in each individual to examine correlations between morphometric measures and clinical profiles.

The total scores of Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, which reflects PTSD illness severity, were positively correlated with cortical thickness in the left precuneus. Also, region-of-interest analysis demonstrated that the volume of posterior corpus callosum in patients with PTSD was smaller than in healthy survivors, and it was negatively correlated with cortical thickness in the left precuneus in patients with PTSD.

“We demonstrated a potential structural neural basis of default-mode network alterations in patients with PTSD that was related to clinical symptom severity. These findings significantly advance mechanistic understanding of early brain changes that determine whether severe emotional trauma will lead to PTSD,” the authors write.

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