Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Reinoud Kaldewaij (Donders series 475)

13 January 2021

Promotor: prof. dr. K. Roelofs
Copromotor: dr. S. Koch

Resilient control - Neural emotion-regulatory circuitries predicting acute and long-term stress-responses

Why do some people develop symptoms, while others are resilient against the consequences of a traumatic experience? More insight in this is of importance for better assessments for at-risk jobs, such as police officer, and the development of preventive interventions to prevent post-traumatic symptoms. I investigated whether the ability to regulate emotional behavior from the prefrontal cortex predicts whether someone is resilient against stress on the short and long term. Thanks to a large NWO-funded (VICI) investigation in collaboration with the Dutch police academy, I was able to investigate this in 340 police officers across the nation. They were tested extensively at the Donders institute with various techniques including functional MRI, before and after experiencing potentially traumatic events. As expected, individuals with stronger frontal emotion-control showed smaller stress-responses, both acute and on the long term after experiencing traumatic events. These findings underline the importance of emotion-control for resilience against stress.