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Blunted responses to reward in remitted post-traumatic stress disorder


Kalebasi, Nilufer; Kuelen, Eveline; Schnyder, Ulrich; Schumacher, Sonja; Mueller-Pfeiffer, Christoph; Wilhelm, Frank H; Athilingam, Jegath; Moergeli, Hanspeter; Martin-Soelch, Chantal (2015). Blunted responses to reward in remitted post-traumatic stress disorder. Brain and Behavior, 5(8):e00357.

Abstract

Background: Recent evidence suggests blunted responses to rewarding stimuli in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is not clear whether these alterations in reward processing normalize in remitted PTSD patients.
Methods: We tested behavioral and physiological responses to monetary reward in a spatial memory task in 13 accident survivors with remitted PTSD, 14 accident survivors who never had PTSD, and 16 nontrauma-exposed subjects. All accident survivors were recruited from two samples of severely physically injured patients, who had participated in previous prospective studies on the incidence of PTSD after accidental injury approximately 10 years ago. Reaction time, accuracy, skin conductance responses, and self-reported mood were assessed during the task.
Results: Accident survivors who never had PTSD and nontrauma exposed controls reported significantly higher positive mood in the reinforced versus nonreinforced condition (P < 0.045 and P < 0.001, respectively), while there was no effect of reinforcement in remitted PTSD subjects.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest an alteration of the reward system in remitted PTSD. Further research is needed to investigate whether altered reward processing is a residual characteristic in PTSD after remission of symptoms or, alternatively, a preexisting risk factor for the development of PTSD after a traumatic event.

Background: Recent evidence suggests blunted responses to rewarding stimuli in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is not clear whether these alterations in reward processing normalize in remitted PTSD patients.
Methods: We tested behavioral and physiological responses to monetary reward in a spatial memory task in 13 accident survivors with remitted PTSD, 14 accident survivors who never had PTSD, and 16 nontrauma-exposed subjects. All accident survivors were recruited from two samples of severely physically injured patients, who had participated in previous prospective studies on the incidence of PTSD after accidental injury approximately 10 years ago. Reaction time, accuracy, skin conductance responses, and self-reported mood were assessed during the task.
Results: Accident survivors who never had PTSD and nontrauma exposed controls reported significantly higher positive mood in the reinforced versus nonreinforced condition (P < 0.045 and P < 0.001, respectively), while there was no effect of reinforcement in remitted PTSD subjects.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest an alteration of the reward system in remitted PTSD. Further research is needed to investigate whether altered reward processing is a residual characteristic in PTSD after remission of symptoms or, alternatively, a preexisting risk factor for the development of PTSD after a traumatic event.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 09:24
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:18
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISSN:2162-3279
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.357
PubMed ID:26357590
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-111428

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