Impaired hippocampus-dependent associative learning as a mechanism underlying PTSD: A meta-analysis

Citation:

Lambert, H. K., & McLaughlin, K. A. (2019). Impaired hippocampus-dependent associative learning as a mechanism underlying PTSD: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews , 107, 729โ€“749.
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Abstract:

Smaller hippocampal volume is associated with increased risk for PTSD following trauma, but the hippocampal functions involved remain unknown. We propose a conceptual model that identifies broad impairment in hippocampus-dependent associative learning as a vulnerability factor for PTSD. Associative learning of foreground cues and background context is required to form an integrated representation of an event. People with poor associative learning may have difficulty remembering who or what was present during a trauma, where the trauma occurred, or the sequence of events, which may contribute to PTSD symptoms. We argue that associative learning difficulties in PTSD exist for cues and context, regardless of the emotional nature of the information. This contrasts with PTSD models that focus exclusively on threat-processing or contextual-processing. In a meta-analysis, people with PTSD exhibited poor associative learning of multiple information types compared to those without PTSD. Differences were of medium effect size and similar magnitude for neutral and negative/trauma-related stimuli. We provide evidence for associative learning difficulties as a neurocognitive pathway that may contribute to PTSD.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 10/25/2019