Subliminal trauma reminders impact neural processing of cognitive control in adults with developmental earthquake trauma: a preliminary report

Xue Du, Yu Li, Qian Ran, Pilyoung Kim, Barbara L. Ganzel, Guang Sheng Liang, Lei Hao, Qinglin Zhang, Huaqing Meng, Jiang Qiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Little is known about the effects of developmental trauma on the neural basis of cognitive control among adults who do not have posttraumatic stress disorder. To examine this question, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the effect of subliminal priming with earthquake-related images on attentional control during a Stroop task in survivors of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China (survivor group, survivors were adolescents at the time of the earthquake) and in matched controls (control group). We found that the survivor group showed greater activation in the left ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC) and the bilateral parahippocampal gyrus during the congruent versus incongruent condition, as compared to the control group. Depressive symptoms were positively correlated with left vACC activation during the congruent condition. Moreover, psychophysiological interaction results showed that the survivor group had stronger functional connectivity between the left parahippocampal gyrus and the left vACC than the control group under the congruent–incongruent condition. These results suggested that trauma-related information was linked to abnormal activity in brain networks associated with cognitive control (e.g., vACC–parahippocampal gyrus). This may be a potential biomarker for depression following developmental trauma, and it may also provide a mechanism linking trauma reminders with depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-916
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31271087; 31470981; 31571137; 31500885), National Outstanding young people plan, the Program for the Top Young Talents by Chongqing, the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWU1509383), Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (cstc2015jcyjA10106), General Financial Grant from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015M572423), a Joint-PhD scholarship (No. 201506990037) of the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to study at the Texas Tech University, and Innovative Research Project for Postgraduate Student of Chongqing (CYB2015060). The authors declare no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • fMRI
  • Stroop task
  • Subliminal priming impact


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