Structural equation modeling of treatment-related changes in neural connectivity for youth with PTSD

Amy S. Garrett, Wei Zhang, Larry R. Price, Jeremyra Cross, Natalia Gomez-Giuliani, Marie Jose van Hoof, Victor Carrion, Judith A. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous studies suggest that improvement in symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is accompanied by changes in neural connectivity, however, few studies have investigated directional (effective) connectivity. The current study assesses treatment-related changes in effective connectivity in youth with PTSD undergoing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). Methods: Functional MRI scans before and after 16 weeks of TF-CBT for 20 youth with PTSD, or the same time interval for 20 healthy controls (HC) were included in the analysis. Structural equation modeling was used to model group differences in directional connectivity at baseline, and changes in connectivity from pre- to post-treatment. Results: At baseline, the PTSD group, relative to the HC group, had significantly greater connectivity in the path from dorsal cingulate to anterior cingulate and from dorsal cingulate to posterior cingulate corticies. From pre- to post-treatment, connectivity in these paths decreased significantly in the PTSD group, as did connectivity from right hippocampus to left superior temporal gyrus. Connectivity from the left amygdala to the lateral orbital frontal cortex was significantly lower in PTSD vs HC at baseline, but did not change from pre- to post-treatment. Conclusion: Although based on a small sample, these results converge with previous studies in suggesting a central role for the dorsal cingulate cortex in PTSD symptoms. The direction of this connectivity suggests that the dorsal cingulate is the source of modulation of anterior and posterior cingulate cortex during trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023


  • Adolescent
  • Brain
  • Neuroimaging
  • Trauma
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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