What is it about?

Dissociative experiences commonly occur in response to trauma, and while their presence strongly impacts treatment approaches, they remain poorly understood and the field lacks an objective way to measure them. Brain-based measures have the potential to serve as an objective measure of dissociation, but it remains unclear whether it is possible to estimate an individual person’s dissociative capacity with a measure of brain function. The authors used a novel machine-learning technique to test whether intrinsic functional brain network connectivity could estimate dissociative symptoms in women with histories of childhood abuse and current posttraumatic stress disorder. They were able to estimate dissociation from these brain-based measures, suggesting aberrant brain network connectivity is associated with dissociative symptomatology.

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Why is it important?

This moves us one step closer to identifying a ‘fingerprint’ of dissociation in the brain that could be used as an objective diagnostic tool. In the future, once brain-based measures reach high levels of sensitivity and specificity, we could use these assessments in individuals who are unable to effectively talk about their symptoms—for example, those who might intentionally or unintentionally minimize or exaggerate their symptoms—or in situations like court proceedings where objective corroborating evidence is requested.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Large-Scale Functional Brain Network Architecture Changes Associated With Trauma-Related Dissociation, American Journal of Psychiatry, February 2021, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19060647.
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