Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award

4-2014

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition than can develop after exposure, or repeated exposure, to a traumatic event. Recent changes to the diagnostic criteria for PTSD reflect a new emphasis on the dysregulation of emotions related to self-appraisal and self-referential processing (SRP). SRP concerns stimuli that are experienced as strongly related to one’s own person and can be measured using valenced stimuli that relate to the participant’s concept of self. These paradigms are referred to as self- referential processing tasks. The current study used data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the activation of brain areas related to the self-referential processing of women. Activation patterns in women with PTSD were compared to those of healthy control women. Both participant groups completed the Visual-Verbal Self-Other Referential Processing Task (VV-SORP-T) to locate regions of interest in self- and other-referential processing in response to valenced social emotional stimuli. It was hypothesized that analyses would show between-group differences in three networks: (1) default mode network, (2) salience network, (3) executive control network. Analysis of the fMRI data was conducted using Group Independent Component Analysis of fMRI (GIFT) toolbox, software courtesy of Medical Image Analysis Lab, for use with the Matrix Laboratory Toolbox (MATLAB). One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to investigate between-group differences in the different conditions. Significant results found greater activation of the defualt mode network for the PTSD group. Significant differences were also found in the visual cortex and cerebellum. This study provides novel evidence for the role of the cerebellum in self-referential processing.

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