Why can some individuals cope with traumatic events while others find it more difficult, remaining « haunted » by a past they can’t forget? Intrusive vivid and distressing memories are a hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and current theories link this persistence to a failure in reducing the fear associated with the trauma – a « deficit rooted in the dysfunction of memory ».
Researchers at Inserm have now used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural networks underlying the control and suppression of memory retrieval. Their results reveal that the untimely resurgence of intrusive images and thoughts in PTSD patients might also be linked to a dysfunction of the brain networks that control memory and not related to the memory itself. These results offer new insights into the development of PTSD and potential avenues for treatment, write the researchers in Science.
The study involved a group of 102 individuals exposed to the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and in a group of 73 non-exposed individuals (that is, those who did not experience the attacks).
Read the publication: Resilience after trauma: the role of memory suppression, Alison Mary, Jacques Dayan, Giovanni Leone, Charlotte Postel, Florence Fraisse, Carine Malle, Thomas Vallée, Carine Klein-Peschanski, Fausto Viader, Vincent de la Sayette, Denis Peschanski, Francis Eustache, Pierre Gagnepain. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.aay8477