Changes in Brain Volume Associated with Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Among Youth with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Amy S. Garrett, Leen Abazid, Judith A. Cohen, Anita van der Kooij, Victor Carrion, Wei Zhang, Booil Jo, Crystal Franklin, Joseph Blader, Sanno Zack, Allan L. Reiss, W. Stewart Agras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study investigated group differences and longitudinal changes in brain volume before and after trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) in 20 unmedicated youth with maltreatment-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 20 non–trauma-exposed healthy control (HC) participants. We collected MRI scans of brain anatomy before and after 5 months of TF-CBT or the same time interval for the HC group. FreeSurfer software was used to segment brain images into 95 cortical and subcortical volumes, which were submitted to optimal scaling regression with lasso variable selection. The resulting model of group differences at baseline included larger right medial orbital frontal and left posterior cingulate corticies and smaller right midcingulate and right precuneus corticies in the PTSD relative to the HC group, R2 =.67. The model of group differences in pre- to posttreatment change included greater longitudinal changes in right rostral middle frontal, left pars triangularis, right entorhinal, and left cuneus corticies in the PTSD relative to the HC group, R2 =.69. Within the PTSD group, pre- to posttreatment symptom improvement was modeled by longitudinal decreases in the left posterior cingulate cortex, R2 =.45, and predicted by baseline measures of a smaller right isthmus (retrosplenial) cingulate and larger left caudate, R2 =.77. In sum, treatment was associated with longitudinal changes in brain regions that support executive functioning but not those that discriminated PTSD from HC participants at baseline. Additionally, results confirm a role for the posterior/retrosplenial cingulate as a correlate of PTSD symptom improvement and predictor of treatment outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-756
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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