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Egocentric virtual maze learning in adult survivors of childhood abuse with dissociative disorders: Evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging


Weniger, Godehard; Siemerkus, Jakob; Barke, Antonia; Lange, Claudia; Ruhleder, Mirjana; Sachsse, Ulrich; Schmidt-Samoa, Carsten; Dechent, Peter; Irle, Eva (2013). Egocentric virtual maze learning in adult survivors of childhood abuse with dissociative disorders: Evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 212(2):116-124.

Abstract

Present neuroimaging findings suggest two subtypes of trauma response, one characterized predominantly by hyperarousal and intrusions, and the other primarily by dissociative symptoms. The neural underpinnings of these two subtypes need to be better defined. Fourteen women with childhood abuse and the current diagnosis of dissociative amnesia or dissociative identity disorder but without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 14 matched healthy comparison subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while finding their way in a virtual maze. The virtual maze presented a first-person view (egocentric), lacked any topographical landmarks and could be learned only by using egocentric navigation strategies. Participants with dissociative disorders (DD) were not impaired in learning the virtual maze when compared with controls, and showed a similar, although weaker, pattern of activity changes during egocentric learning when compared with controls. Stronger dissociative disorder severity of participants with DD was related to better virtual maze performance, and to stronger activity increase within the cingulate gyrus and the precuneus. Our results add to the present knowledge of preserved attentional and visuospatial mnemonic functioning in individuals with DD.

Present neuroimaging findings suggest two subtypes of trauma response, one characterized predominantly by hyperarousal and intrusions, and the other primarily by dissociative symptoms. The neural underpinnings of these two subtypes need to be better defined. Fourteen women with childhood abuse and the current diagnosis of dissociative amnesia or dissociative identity disorder but without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 14 matched healthy comparison subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while finding their way in a virtual maze. The virtual maze presented a first-person view (egocentric), lacked any topographical landmarks and could be learned only by using egocentric navigation strategies. Participants with dissociative disorders (DD) were not impaired in learning the virtual maze when compared with controls, and showed a similar, although weaker, pattern of activity changes during egocentric learning when compared with controls. Stronger dissociative disorder severity of participants with DD was related to better virtual maze performance, and to stronger activity increase within the cingulate gyrus and the precuneus. Our results add to the present knowledge of preserved attentional and visuospatial mnemonic functioning in individuals with DD.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:17 Feb 2014 10:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:34
Publisher:Elsevier Ireland Ltd
ISSN:0925-4927
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2012.11.004
PubMed ID:23522878

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