Working memory processing of traumatic material in women with pottraumatic stress disorder

Working memory processing of traumatic material in women with pottraumatic stress disorder


J Psychiatry Neurosci 2012;37(2):87-94

Lionel Landré, PhD; Christophe Destrieux, MD, PhD; Frédéric Andersson, PhD; Laurent Barantin, PhD; Yann Quidé, MSc; Géraldine Tapia, PhD; Nematollah Jaafari, MD;David Clarys, PhD; Philippe Gaillard, MD, PhD; Michel Isingrini, PhD; Wissam El-Hage, MD, PhD

Landré, Destrieux, Barantin, Quidé, Gaillard, Isingrini, El-Hage — Inserm U930 ERL CNRS 3106, Université François Rabelais de Tours, France; Destrieux, Barantin, Gaillard, El-Hage — CHRU de Tours, France; Andersson — Imagerie Fonctionnelle, Tours, France; Tapia — Université de Bordeaux-2, France; Jaafari — INSERM Experimental and Clinical Neurosciences Laboratory, Team Psychobiology of Compulsive Disorders; Université de Poitiers; CIC INSERM U 802; CHU Poitiers; SHUPPM and Centre Hospitalier Henri Laborit, Poitiers, France; Clarys — Université de Poitiers, France


Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with medial frontal and amygdala functional alterations during the processing of traumatic material and frontoparietal dysfunctions during working memory tasks. This functional magnetic resonance imaging(fMRI) study investigated the effects of trauma-related words processing on working memory in patients with PTSD.
Methods: We obtained fMRI scans during a 3-back task and an identity task on both neutral and trauma-related words in women with PTSD who had been sexually abused and in healthy, nonexposed pair-matched controls.
Results: Seventeen women with PTSD and 17 controls participated in the study. We found no behavioural working memory deficit for the PTSD group. In both tasks, deactivation of posterior parietal midline regions was more pronounced in patients than controls. Additionally, patients with PTSD recruited the left dorsolateral frontal sites to a greater extent during the processing of trauma-related material than neutral material.
Limitations: This study included only women and did not include a trauma-exposed non-PTSD control group; the results may, therefore, have been influenced by sex or by effects specific to trauma exposure.
Conclusion: Our results broadly confirm frontal and parietal functional variations in women with PTSD and suggest a compensatory nature of these variations with regard to the retreival of traumatic memories and global attentional deficits, respectively, during cognitively challenging tasks.

Submitted Nov. 21, 2010; Revised Apr. 23, June 26, 2011; Accepted June 27, 2011.

Competing interests: None declared for L. Landré, F. Andersson, L. Barantin, Y. Quidé, G. Tapia, N. Jaafari, D. Clarys, P. Gaillard and M. Isingrini. W. El-Hage has received speaker fees from BMS, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Cilag and Lundbeck. He received research grants from Servier, the French Association of Biological Psychiatry and Neuropsychopharmacology (AFPBN) and Lundbeck, which are unrelated to the content of this manuscript. He is coinvestigator on research projects sponsored by Lundbeck and AstraZeneca, he receives no remuneration from any of them. The authors report no other competing interests or financial relationships with commercial interests. Supported by a grant from the French Ministry of Health, Hospital Clinical Research Program, PHRC-APR-04 (C. Destrieux, W. El-Hage). registry number, NCT00288314.

Contributors: L. Landré, C. Destrieux, G. Tapia, M. Isingrini and W. El-Hage designed the study. L. Landré, L. Barantin, N. Jaafari and W. El-Hage acquired the data, which L. Landré, C. Destrieux, F. Andersson, Y. Quideé, N. Jaafari, D. Clarys, P. Gaillard and W. El-Hage analyzed. L. Landré, G. Tapia and W. El-Hage wrotethe article, which L. Landré, C. Destrieux, F. Andersson, L. Barantin, Y. Quidé, N. Jaafari, D. Clarys, P. Gaillard, M. Isingrini and W. El-Hage reviewed. All authors approved publication.

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.110167

Correspondence to: W. El-Hage, Inserm U930 ERL CNRS 3106, Université François Rabelais de Tours, CHRU de Tours, Blvd. Tonnellé, 37044 Tours Cedex 9, France;