Spontaneous brain activity, graph metrics, and head motion related to prospective post-traumatic stress disorder trauma-focused therapy response

Introduction: Trauma-focused psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is effective in about half of all patients. Investigating biological systems related to prospective treatment response is important to gain insight in mechanisms predisposing patients for successful intervention. We studied if spontaneous brain activity, brain network characteristics and head motion during the resting state are associated with future treatment success.


Methods: Functional magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired from 46 veterans with PTSD around the start of treatment. Psychotherapy consisted of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (tf-CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or a combination thereof. After intervention, 24 patients were classified as treatment responders and 22 as treatment resistant. Differences between groups in spontaneous brain activity were evaluated using amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF), while global and regional brain network characteristics were assessed using a minimum spanning tree (MST) approach. In addition, in-scanner head motion was assessed.


Results: No differences in spontaneous brain activity and global network characteristics were observed between the responder and non-responder group. The right inferior parietal lobule, right putamen and left superior parietal lobule had a more central position in the network in the responder group compared to the non-responder group, while the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), right inferior frontal gyrus and left inferior temporal gyrus had a less central position. In addition, responders showed less head motion.


Discussion: These results show that areas involved in executive functioning, attentional and action processes, learning, and visual-object processing, are related to prospective PTSD treatment response in veterans. In addition, these findings suggest that involuntary micromovements may be related to future treatment success. 

Remko van Lutterveld, Tim Varkevisser, Karlijn Kouwer, Sanne J. H. van Rooij, Mitzy Kennis, Martine Hueting, Simone van Montfort, Edwin van Dellen and Elbert Geuze | 2022
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience ; ISSN: 1662-5161 | 16 | August
Brain Morphology, Brain Stimulation, EMDR, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Emotion Focused Therapy, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Statistical Analysis, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Treatment, Veterans
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