Latest research on PTSD shows smaller brain area regulating fear response

CAT scans. Recent combat veterans who are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder have significantly smaller volume in an area of the brain critical for regulating fear and anxiety responses. (Credit: © svedoliver / Fotolia)

Recent combat veterans who are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder have significantly smaller volume in an area of the brain critical for regulating fear and anxiety responses, according to research led by scientists at Duke University and the Durham VA Medical Center.

The finding, published Nov. 5, 2012, in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, for the first time provides clear evidence that smaller amygdala volume is associated with PTSD, regardless of the severity of trauma. But it’s not clear whether the physiological difference was caused by a traumatic event, or whether PTSD develops more readily in people who naturally have smaller amygdalas.

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