Reduced Amygdala and Ventral Striatal Activity to Happy Faces in PTSD Is Associated with Emotional Numbing
AuthorFelmingham, KL; Falconer, EM; Williams, L; Kemp, AH; Allen, A; Peduto, A; Bryant, RA
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsFelmingham, K. L., Falconer, E. M., Williams, L., Kemp, A. H., Allen, A., Peduto, A. & Bryant, R. A. (2014). Reduced Amygdala and Ventral Striatal Activity to Happy Faces in PTSD Is Associated with Emotional Numbing. PLOS ONE, 9 (9), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103653.
Access StatusOpen Access
There has been a growing recognition of the importance of reward processing in PTSD, yet little is known of the underlying neural networks. This study tested the predictions that (1) individuals with PTSD would display reduced responses to happy facial expressions in ventral striatal reward networks, and (2) that this reduction would be associated with emotional numbing symptoms. 23 treatment-seeking patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder were recruited from the treatment clinic at the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, Westmead Hospital, and 20 trauma-exposed controls were recruited from a community sample. We examined functional magnetic resonance imaging responses during the presentation of happy and neutral facial expressions in a passive viewing task. PTSD participants rated happy facial expression as less intense than trauma-exposed controls. Relative to controls, PTSD participants revealed lower activation to happy (-neutral) faces in ventral striatum and and a trend for reduced activation in left amygdala. A significant negative correlation was found between emotional numbing symptoms in PTSD and right ventral striatal regions after controlling for depression, anxiety and PTSD severity. This study provides initial evidence that individuals with PTSD have lower reactivity to happy facial expressions, and that lower activation in ventral striatal-limbic reward networks may be associated with symptoms of emotional numbing.
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