A considerable proportion of individuals exposed to trauma experience chronic and persistent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the specific brain and clinical features that render trauma-exposed individuals more susceptible to enduring symptoms remain elusive. This study investigated 112 trauma-exposed participants who had been diagnosed with PTSD and 112 demographically-matched healthy controls. Trauma-exposed participants were classified into those with current PTSD (persistent PTSD, n = 78) and those without (remitted PTSD, n = 34). Cortical thickness analysis was performed to discern group-specific brain structural characteristics. Coping strategies and resilience levels, assessed as clinical attributes, were compared across the groups. The persistent PTSD group displayed cortical thinning in the superior frontal cortex (SFC), insula, superior temporal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, superior parietal cortex, and precuneus, relative to the remitted PTSD and control groups. Cortical thinning in the SFC was associated with increased utilization of maladaptive coping strategies, while diminished thickness in the insula correlated with lower resilience levels among trauma-exposed individuals. These findings imply that cortical thinning in brain regions related to coping strategy and resilience plays a vital role in the persistence of PTSD symptoms.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
- Cortical thickness
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Persistent symptom
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Superior frontal cortex