The Amygdala and Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Doctor Daniel Pine explains that the amygdala is involved in learning to respond to a fearful experience fear-learning. There is evidence that the same response can lead to PTSD.

So, one of the areas of greatest interest is what exactly is the role of fear-learning and the amygdala when people develop PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD is one of the conditions where there is pretty strong evidence to suggest that the amygdala is somehow involved. However, to what extent changes in the amygdala reflect trauma – in other words that when people are exposed to extreme stress they develop a problem in their amygdala versus whether problems in the amygdala come first, so that among people who experience something traumatic only people who already have a problem in the amygdala develop PTSD. That is really what is not clear. Those kinds of studies are very difficult to do in people because we do not always know who is going to develop trauma, who is going to be exposed to a traumatic event on the one hand, and to really understand what is the role of the amygdala in people’s reactions to trauma ideally we would want to study the amygdala before people are traumatized, so that is one hard part of that study. But then the other hard part is that people show very different responses to traumatic events as we follow them overtime. You do not know immediately after a trauma who is going to have problems and who is not, You have to study a particularly large group of people not just one time after they are exposed to trauma, but many times as they adapt and either improve their functioning or as they have problems that continue to grow. Because it looks like immediately after a traumatic event, many people can have transient problems in terms of how they are functioning. It might not be for many weeks or even months before we really understand who is going to have particularly marked problems and who is going to do particularly well. Those are the kinds of questions but we really do not have the answers yet in terms of how the amygdala relates to long-term functioning.

amygdala, posttraumatic stress disorder, ptsd, fear, learning, daniel, danny, pine

  • ID: 2289
  • Source: DNALC.G2C

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