AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Identified Brain Circuitry Bridges Neural and Behavioral Roles in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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Specific cerebral circuitry bridges chemical changes deep in the brain and the more outward behavioral expressions associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which could lead to more objective biomarkers for the disorder, according to a comprehensive review of rapidly changing data. In this latest, comprehensive review, the authors — from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center (CVC) in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center and the University of Michigan/Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health Systems Mental Health Service – have identified four neural-behavioral models associated with PTSD. These models pinpoint specific circuits in the brain that “mediate” between chemical changes – which are being examined as possible PTSD biomarkers – and the expression of certain characteristics often associated with PTSD. These include fear responses, avoidance of trauma reminders, impaired emotional balance and the persistence of defensive responses despite a safe environment.

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