The neurological basis of vulnerability to traumatic stress

Tuesday 17 January 2023, 4:30 pm
B.C.J. Dirven MSc
Prof. dr. L.T. Kozicz, Prof. dr. J.R. Homberg
Dr. M.J.A.G. Henckens

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.

Bart Dirven (1992) obtained his Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University in 2015. In 2016, he started his PhD research as part of the Anatomy Department of the Radboudumc and Cognitive Neuroscience Department of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. Currently, he is working as an ERP consultant for a software developer in Nijmegen.