Magnetic resonance imaging predictors of psychotherapy treatment response in post-traumatic stress disorder: A role for the salience network.


James J. Peters VA Medical Center, Bronx, NY, United States; Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, United States. Electronic address: [Email]


The earliest neuroimaging studies in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) utilized positron emission tomography (PET) to examine the brain's response to glucocorticoid administration given predominant neurobiological models of the stress response focusing on that neuroendocrine system. This work revealed that the anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala, which is now considered part of the salience network, play a role in treatment response, and set the stage for subsequent magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies focused on understanding the role of the salience network in the neurobiology of treatment response in PTSD. This selective review discusses magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies that have been used to predict treatment response to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or prolonged exposure (PE) in PTSD, which have demonstrated abnormalities in processing involving the salience network, including the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex and insula. Increased attention to environmental cues may signal alarm resulting in hypervigilance and overactive action-monitoring for the detection of threatening stimuli and an inability to integrate concomitant emotional and sensory functions in PTSD. Successful psychotherapy treatment response in PTSD appears to involve the ability to downregulate amygdala activity to trauma-related stimuli through improved regulation of attention by the anterior cingulate cortex and concomitant internal emotional states mediated by the insula. In addition, the ability to better modulate (normalize) the salience network following psychotherapy in PTSD may be associated with better crosstalk between untargeted inner thought (i.e., task-negative network) and the ability to focus attention on stimulus-dependent demands (i.e., task positive network).


Amygdala,Anterior cingulate cortex,Glucocorticoids,Insula,Magnetic resonance imaging,Post-traumatic stress disorder,Psychotherapy,Salience network,Treatment response,

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