About this item:

242 Views | 158 Downloads

Author Notes:

Jennifer S. Stevens, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 954 Gatewood Dr., Atlanta, GA 30329, USA. jswils4@emory.edu

Kerry Ressler, Tanja Jovanovic, Negar Fani, Timothy Ely, and Bekh Bradley designed the study and wrote the protocol; Ebony Glover, Timothy Ely, and Jennifer Stevens collected the data; Jennifer Stevens and Timothy Ely conducted the analyses; Jennifer Stevens wrote the first draft of the paper; All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.

We would like to thank Allan Graham, Angelo Brown, Julia Merlin, and Rahim Dhanani; as well as the Grady Trauma Project staff for help with participant recruitment; and Robert Smith III, at the Biomedical Imaging Technology Center for his assistance with imaging.

The authors declare no conflict of interest, financial or otherwise.


Research Funding:

This work was primarily supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health (MH071537 to K.J.R. and MH098212 to T.J.).

Support was also received from Emory and Grady Memorial Hospital General Clinical Research Center; NIH National Centers for Research Resources (M01RR00039); National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the NIH (UL1TR000454); and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (K.J.R.).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Psychiatry
  • PTSD
  • Amygdala
  • fMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Emotion
  • FMRI

Disrupted amygdala-prefrontal functional connectivity in civilian women with posttraumatic stress disorder


Journal Title:

Journal of Psychiatric Research


Volume 47, Number 10


, Pages 1469-1478

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Many features of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be linked to exaggerated and dysregulated emotional responses. Central to the neurocircuitry regulating emotion are functional interactions between the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Findings from human and animal studies suggest that disruption of this circuit predicts individual differences in emotion regulation. However, only a few studies have examined amygdala-vmPFC connectivity in the context of emotional processing in PTSD. The aim of the present research was to investigate the hypothesis that PTSD is associated with disrupted functional connectivity of the amygdala and vmPFC in response to emotional stimuli, extending previous findings by demonstrating such links in an understudied, highly traumatized, civilian population. 40 African-American women with civilian trauma (20 with PTSD and 20 non-PTSD controls) were recruited from a large urban hospital. Participants viewed fearful and neutral face stimuli during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Relative to controls, participants with PTSD showed an increased right amygdala response to fearful stimuli (pcorr<.05). Right amygdala activation correlated positively with the severity of hyperarousal symptoms in the PTSD group. Participants with PTSD showed decreased functional connectivity between the right amygdala and left vmPFC (pcorr<.05). The findings are consistent with previous findings showing PTSD is associated with an exaggerated response of amygdala-mediated emotional arousal systems. This is the first study to show that the amygdala response may be accompanied by disruption of an amygdala-vmPFC functional circuit that is hypothesized to be involved in prefrontal cortical regulation of amygdala responsivity.

Copyright information:

© 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Creative Commons License

Export to EndNote