Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Bart Dirven (Donders series 597)

17 January 2023

Promotor: prof. Dr. Tamás Kozicz, prof. Dr. Judith Homberg
Copromotor: dr. Marloes Henckens

The Neurobiological Signature of Susceptibility to Traumatic Stress

Why are some people more vulnerable than others when it comes to developing stress-related symptoms, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after a trauma? Stress susceptible and resilient individuals display a wide range of differences in brain activity, connectivity and regulation of gene expression. Some of these interindividual differences appear to already be present before trauma exposure (and might as such form risk factors for later development of PTSD), while others become apparent during the trauma, or develop during the aftermath. Earlier reported deviations in a handful of widely studied brain regions, like the hippocampus and amygdala, have not proven sufficient to explain the complex phenotype of PTSD. By employing new techniques for clearing and 3D visualizing whole brain material, it is now possible to prove involvement of more brain regions that, although overlooked earlier, show deviant activity before, during or after trauma exposure, and may, as such, underlie PTSD susceptibility.