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Extended functional connectivity of convergent structural alterations among individuals with PTSD: A neuroimaging meta-analysis



Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating disorder defined by the onset of intrusive, avoidant, negative cognitive or affective, and/or hyperarousal symptoms after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Previous voxel-based morphometry studies have provided insight into structural brain alterations associated with PTSD with notable heterogeneity across these studies. Furthermore, how structural alterations may be associated with brain function, as measured by task-free and task-based functional connectivity, remains to be elucidated.


Using emergent meta-analytic techniques, we sought to first identify a consensus of structural alterations in PTSD using the anatomical likelihood estimation (ALE) approach. Next, we generated functional profiles of identified convergent structural regions utilizing resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) and meta-analytic co-activation modeling (MACM) methods. Finally, we performed functional decoding to examine mental functions associated with our ALE, rsFC, and MACM brain characterizations.


We observed convergent structural alterations in a single region located in the medial prefrontal cortex. The resultant rsFC and MACM maps identified functional connectivity across a widespread, whole-brain network that included frontoparietal and limbic regions.


Consensus-based functional connectivity was observed in regions of the default mode, salience, and central executive networks, which play a role in the tripartite model of psychopathology. Functional decoding revealed overlapping associations with attention, memory, and emotion processes. Taken together, these findings have important implications in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms associated with PTSD.