What is it about?

Researchers used brain imaging in people who had experienced a very recent trauma. They engaged study participants in tasks that involved responses to threat cues, reward cues, and behavioral inhibition -- all elements of neurocognition that have a known role in multiple psychiatric disorders. Participants showed one of 3 patterns of activity across these tasks. One pattern, involving heightened neural responses to threat and reward, predicted future posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety symptoms.

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Why is it important?

This work lays a foundation for future studies designed to increase stress and trauma resilience, by intervening early after a trauma has occurred. Although heightened threat responses have long been linked with chronic mental health conditions such as PTSD, this work also shows that reward responses may also be important in some people. Identifying different ways that people respond to major stressful life events will help with the goal of giving the right treatments to the right person, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Brain-Based Biotypes of Psychiatric Vulnerability in the Acute Aftermath of Trauma, American Journal of Psychiatry, November 2021, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101526.
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