Diminished rostral anterior cingulate activity in response to threat-related events in posttraumatic stress disorder

Minue J. Kim, Jeanyung Chey, Ain Chung, Soojeong Bae, Hyunsoo Khang, Byungjoo Ham, Sujung J. Yoon, Do Un Jeong, In Kyoon Lyoo

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70 Scopus citations


Background: Previous brain imaging studies have reported hyperactivation of the amygdala and hypoactivation of the anterior cingulate in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients, which is believed to be an underlying neural mechanism of the PTSD symptoms. The current study specifically focuses on the abnormal activity of the rostral anterior cingulate, using a paradigm which elicits an unexpected processing conflict caused by salient emotional stimuli. Methods: Twelve survivors (seven men and five women) of the Taegu subway fire in 2003, who later developed PTSD, agreed to participate in this study. Twelve healthy volunteers (seven men and five women) were recruited for comparison. Functional brain images of all participants were acquired using functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a same-different judgment task, which was modified to elicit an unexpected emotional processing conflict. Results: PTSD patients, compared to comparison subjects, showed a decreased rostral anterior cingulate functioning when exposed to situations which induce an unexpected emotional processing conflict. Moreover, PTSD symptom severity was negatively correlated to the level of decrease in the rostral anterior cingulate activity. Conclusions: The results of this study provide evidence that the rostral anterior cingulate functioning is impaired in PTSD patients during response-conflict situations that involve emotional stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-277
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Development of the MacBrain Face Stimulus Set was overseen by Nim Tottenham and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development. Please contact Nim Tottenham at tott0006@tc.umn.edu for more information concerning the stimulus set.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Grants from the Brain Research Center of the 21st Century Frontier Research Program funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Republic of Korea (70%) (M103KV010022-06K2201-02210; I.K.L.), the Korea Health 21 R&D Project, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (A06-0434-A21018-06N1-00010 A; I.K.L.), the Korea Research Foundation Grant funded by the Korean Government (MOEHRD, Basic Research Promotion Fund) (KRF-2006-003-E00187; S.J.Y.), and 2006 NARSAD Independent Investigator Award (Great Neck, NY, USA; I.K.L.).


  • Anterior cingulate
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Trauma


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