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Catherine Mikkelsen, Arash Yazdanbakhsh; A Frontotemporal Regional Model of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):103. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.103.
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The flashback is a phenomenon in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in which traumatic memories are replayed as a reaction to a stimulus. However, the underlying neural mechanisms for this phenomenon are still under investigation. We created a multi-layer model of visual input, entorhinal cortex, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, basolateral amygdala, and the central nucleus of the amygdala, as a multi-area network to determine how these regions may be distinctively encoding the traumatic events that produce these replays. The current model dynamic shows that highly emotional visual stimuli can be generalized to similar stimuli, more so than events related to neutral stimuli. This result mimics electrophysiological results in the amygdala (Ghosh & Chattarji, 2015). Our network dynamics can be used to create a more nuanced approach to PTSD treatments: it could replicate outcomes of techniques such as Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and improve the spatial and temporal configuration of the technique. Our model characterizes the spatio-temporal aspects of the flashback phenomenon and as such aids in the spatio-temporal fine-tuning of treatments such as EMDR. As a future direction, we can incorporate in the model individual and developmental differences in plasticity in responding to current treatments based on visual stimuli to come up with optimized treatment for each individual affected by PTSD.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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