Korean J Biol Psychiatry.  2008 May;15(2):110-117.

Neural Substrates of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study Using Negative Priming Task

  • 1Institute of Psychological Science, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Seoul Institute for Narrative Studies, Seoul, Korea. lamia@nuri.net
  • 3Cognitive Science Program, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Psychology, Indiana University, IN, USA.
  • 5Department of Psychology, George Washington University, Washington D.C., MA, USA.
  • 6Department of English Language and Literature, Chung Ang University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 7Department of Psychiatry, Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University Medial Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 8Seoul Wemen's College of Nursing, Seoul, Korea


Posttraumatic stress disorder(PTSD) has been primarily associated with emotional problems. Recently, however, the impact of PTSD on cognitive processes has interested a growing number of researchers. The current study is aimed at investigating the cognitive aspects of PTSD at both behavioral and neurological levels.
We recruited individuals with PTSD who survived the Daegu subway explosion in 2003 as well as non-PTSD individuals as a control group. To evaluate the inhibitory processes and the neural mechanisms, we had these individuals perform the negative priming task simultaneously with functional MRI scanning.
Behaviorally, the negative priming effect was intact in the control group but was not evident in the PTSD group. In the imaging results, only the PTSD group showed the negative priming effect (i.e., increased activation of the negative priming condition as opposed to the neutral condition) in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior temporal gyrus. The PTSD group also showed increased activity for the positive priming condition as opposed to the neutral condition in the claustrum. These results confirm and extend the previous findings that the integrity of the ACC is compromised in the trauma survivors due to disrupted white matter tract.
The current results suggest that deteriorated performance of the PTSD group may be due to the functional problem as well as the structural abnormalities.


Posttraumatic stress disorder; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Negative priming task; Anterior cingulate gyrus
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