Impaired Voluntary Control in PTSD: Probing Self-Regulation of the ACC With Real-Time fMRI.
Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:219
Authors: Zweerings J, Pflieger EM, Mathiak KA, Zvyagintsev M, Kacela A, Flatten G, Mathiak K
Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by deficits in the self-regulation of cognitions and emotions. Neural networks of emotion regulation may exhibit reduced control mediated by the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), contributing to aberrant limbic responses in PTSD. Methods: Real-time fMRI neurofeedback (rt-fMRI NF) assessed self-regulation of the ACC in nine patients with PTSD after single trauma exposure and nine matched healthy controls. All participants were instructed to train ACC upregulation on three training days. Results: Both groups achieved regulation, which was associated with wide-spread brain activation encompassing the ACC. Compared to the controls, regulation amplitude and learning rate was lower in patients, correlating with symptom severity. In addition, a frontopolar activation cluster was associated with self-regulation efforts in patients. Conclusions: For the first time, we tested self-regulation of the ACC in patients with PTSD. The observed impairment supports models of ACC-mediated regulation deficits that may contribute to the psychopathology of PTSD. Controlled trials in a larger sample are needed to confirm our findings and to directly investigate whether training of central regulation mechanisms improves emotion regulation in PTSD.
PMID: 29899712 [PubMed]