Resting-state pulvinar-posterior parietal decoupling in PTSD and its dissociative subtype

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Abstract

Key evidence points toward alterations in the neurocircuitry of large-scale networks among patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The pulvinar is a thalamic region displaying reciprocal connectivity with the cortex and has been shown to modulate alpha synchrony to facilitate network communication. During rest, the pulvinar displays functional connectivity with the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), a heteromodal network of brain areas underlying multisensory integration and socioaffective functions that are shown at deficit in PTSD. Accordingly, this study seeks to reveal the resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) patterns of individuals with PTSD, its dissociative subtype (PTSD + DS) and healthy controls. A whole-brain rsFC analysis was conducted using SPM12 and PickAtlas. Connectivity was analyzed for the left and right pulvinar across groups of individuals with PTSD (n = 81), PTSD + DS (n = 49), and controls (n = 51). As compared to PTSD, controls displayed significantly greater pulvinar rsFC with the superior parietal lobule and precuneus. Moreover, as compared to PTSD + DS, controls showed increased pulvinar connectivity with the superior parietal lobule, inferior parietal lobule and the precuneus. PTSD groups did not display stronger connectivity with any region as compared to controls. Last, PTSD had greater rsFC in the supramarginal gyrus relative to PTSD + DS. Reduced connectivity between the pulvinar and PPC may explain impairments to autobiographical memory, self-referential processing, and socioaffective domains in PTSD and PTSD + DS even at “rest.” Critically, these alterations appear to be exacerbated in individuals with PTSD + DS, which may have important implications for treatment.

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