The neural dynamics of deficient memory control in heavily traumatized refugees

Waldhauser, G. T. , Dahl, M. J. , Ruf-Leuschner, M. , Müller-Bamouh, V. , Schauer, M. , Axmacher, N. , Elbert, T. and Hanslmayr, S. (2018) The neural dynamics of deficient memory control in heavily traumatized refugees. Scientific Reports, 8, 13132. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31400-x) (PMID:30177846) (PMCID:PMC6120867)

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Victims of war, torture and natural catastrophes are prone to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These individuals experience the recurrent, involuntary intrusion of traumatic memories. What neurocognitive mechanisms are driving this memory disorder? Here we show that PTSD symptoms in heavily traumatized refugees are related to deficits in the effective control of memory retrieval. In a think/no-think task, PTSD patients were unable to forget memories that they had previously tried to suppress when compared to control participants with the same trauma history but without PTSD. Deficits in voluntary forgetting were clinically relevant since they correlated with memory intrusions in everyday life. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) recorded during suppression attempts revealed that PTSD patients were unable to downregulate signatures of sensory long-term memory traces in the gamma frequency band (70–120 Hz). Thus, our data suggest that the inability to suppress unwanted memories through modulation of gamma activity is related to PTSD symptom severity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported by the Swedish Research Council (VR 435-2011-7163) and the Young Scholar Fund at the University of Konstanz (83946931) awarded to G. T. W., the European Research Council (ERC-2012 AdG 323977) to T. E., the German Research Council (DFG HA 5622/1-1) and European Research Council (Grant Agreement no 647954) to S. H.(further supported by the Wolfson Society and the Royal Society), and the German Research Council (AX82/2-1 and SFB 874) to N. A.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanslmayr, Professor Simon
Authors: Waldhauser, G. T., Dahl, M. J., Ruf-Leuschner, M., Müller-Bamouh, V., Schauer, M., Axmacher, N., Elbert, T., and Hanslmayr, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 8: 13132
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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