The psychophysiology of posttraumatic stress disorder: a meta-analysis.

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA.
Psychological Bulletin (Impact Factor: 15.58). 10/2007; 133(5):725-46. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.133.5.725
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This meta-analysis of 58 resting baseline studies, 25 startle studies, 17 standardized trauma cue studies, and 22 idiographic trauma cue studies compared adults with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on psychophysiological variables: facial electromyography (EMG), heart rate (HR), skin conductance (SC), and blood pressure. Significant weighted mean effects of PTSD were observed for HR (r = .18) and SC (r = .08) in resting baseline studies; eyeblink EMG (r = .13), HR (r = .23), and SC habituation slope (r = .21) in startle studies; HR (r = .27) in standardized trauma cue studies; and frontalis EMG (r = .21), corrugator EMG (r = .34), HR (r = .22), and SC (r = .19) in idiographic trauma cue studies. The most robust correlates of PTSD were SC habituation slope, facial EMG during idiographic trauma cues, and HR during all study types. Overall, the results support the view that PTSD is associated with elevated psychophysiology. However, the generalizability of these findings is limited by characteristics of the published literature, including its disproportionate focus on male veterans and neglect of potential PTSD subtypes.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Clinically relevant posttraumatic stress disorders are almost always associated with physical symptoms, which are, on the one hand, classified as somatoform and, on the other hand, may also present as somatic comorbidities. The psychological, neurobiological, endocrinological and immunological correlations are only now beginning to be understood. Thereby, integration into a meaningful biopsychosocial model is still pending. The following article gives a concise summary of the knowledge concerning the relationship between body and psyche in posttraumatic stress spectrum disorders and provides the neuroscientific foundation which could establish a biological link between the phenomenologies of the disorder. Neurobiological data on posttraumatic disorders and somatoform disorders are diverse and not uniform. This is even more true when it comes to those disorders that are within the intersection of these two entities and, above all, their special features in the elderly. Psychophysiological, neuroanatomical, endocrine-immunological, genetic, and epigenetic factors play an important role here. With regard to posttraumatic stress disorder, for example, higher autonomic reactivity was observed, which indicates an acquired general sensitization of the nervous system.
    Zeitschrift für Gerontologie + Geriatrie 03/2014; · 0.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Fear conditioning has been proposed as an important factor involved in the etiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We examined fear processing in PTSD patients with mild symptoms and in individuals who did not develop symptoms (both groups consisting of victims of a bank robbery), through the study of fear conditioned response. Conditioned responses were quantified by the skin conductance response (SCR) and the facial thermal response, the latter being measured by high-resolution functional thermal infrared (fIR) imaging. We found: a) a change of the physiological parameters with respect to the baseline condition in both control subjects and PTSD patients during the conditioning phase; b) the permanence of the conditioning effect in the maintenance phase in both control and PTSD patients; c) patients and controls did differ for the variation across the phases of the physiological parameters rather than for their absolute values, showing that PTSD patients had a prolonged excitation and higher tonic component of autonomic activity. These results, although preliminary, indicate that the analysis of SCR and facial thermal response during the conditioning paradigm is a promising psychometric method of investigation, even in the case of low level PTSD symptom severity. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first attempt to discriminate between control subjects and PTSD patients with mild symptoms through infrared thermal imaging. It may suggest feasible approaches for diagnostic screening in the early phases of the disorder and in the assessment of preventive measures and therapies.
    Neuroscience 02/2014; · 3.12 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotional Processing Theory proposes that habituation to trauma-related stimuli is an essential component of PTSD treatment. However, the mechanisms underlying treatment-related habituation are not well understood. We examined one psychophysiological measure that holds potential for elucidating the biological processes involved in treatment response: trauma-potentiated startle response. Seventeen OEF/OIF combat Veterans participated in the study and completed three assessments using a trauma-potentiated startle paradigm over PTSD treatment. Results revealed different patterns of trauma-potentiated startle across treatment for responders and nonresponders, but no differences in within task habituation. Responders showed an increase followed by a decrease in trauma-potentiated startle, whereas nonresponders showed a relatively flat response profile. Results suggested that PTSD patients who engage with emotional content as demonstrated by greater startle reactivity may be more likely to respond to PTSD treatment. Furthermore, trauma-potentiated startle shows promise as an objective measure of psychophysiological responses involved in PTSD recovery.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 04/2014; 28(4):358-362. · 2.68 Impact Factor


Available from