Neurobehavioral mechanisms of traumatic stress in post-traumatic stress disorder

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4 Scopus citations


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating psychiatric disorder that develops following trauma exposure. It is characterized by four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alteration in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. Several risk factors have been associated with PTSD, including trauma type and severity, gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, cognitive reserve, pretrauma psychopathology, familial psychiatric history, and genetics. Great strides have been made in understanding the neurobiology of PTSD through animal models and human imaging studies. Most of the animal models have face validity, but they have limitations in the generalization to the human model of PTSD. Newer animal models, such as the ‘‘CBC’’ model, have better validity for PTSD, which takes into account the different components of its diagnostic criteria. To date, fear conditioning and fear extinction animal models have provided support for the hypothesis that PTSD is a dysregulation of the processes related to fear regulation and, especially, fear extinction. More research is needed to further understand these processes as they relate not only to PTSD but also to resilience. Further, this research could be instrumental in the development of novel effective treatments for PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-190
Number of pages30
JournalCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Animal models
  • Conditioned learning
  • Fear extinction
  • PTSD
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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