Being traumatized can cause what are known as dissociative symptoms — such as experiencing amnesia, an out-of-body experience, feeling emotionally numb — which may help people cope. Experiencing these symptoms intensely or for a long time, however, can negatively impact an individual’s ability to function.
A team led by investigators at McLean Hospital has now found that brain imaging analyses can uncover changes in functional connections between brain regions linked to a specific individual’s dissociative symptoms following trauma. The findings, which have been published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, may be useful for tailoring treatments for affected patients.
For the study, the researchers applied a novel machine-learning (artificial intelligence) technique to functional magnetic resonance imaging tests of 65 women with histories of childhood abuse and current post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The technique, developed by one of the lead authors, Meiling Li, PhD, from Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical