Research ArticlePsychiatry

Using fMRI connectivity to define a treatment-resistant form of post-traumatic stress disorder

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Science Translational Medicine  03 Apr 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 486, eaal3236
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aal3236

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PTSD’s secrets hidden in a VAN

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe psychiatric illness. Psychotherapy is the only effective treatment for PTSD but only works in a portion of patients. Etkin and colleagues now report a neuroimaging and behavioral signature in a subgroup of PTSD patients who failed to respond to psychotherapy. This signature was associated with impairments in fMRI connectivity in the brain’s ventral attention network and a deficit on a word list learning task. Use of noninvasive brain stimulation in combination with neuroimaging identified a brain location in which network connectivity correlated with the effects of stimulation. This work may help to define a target for future noninvasive brain stimulation approaches for treating patients with PTSD who are refractory to psychotherapy.