Altered resting-state functional connectivity of basolateral and centromedial amygdala complexes in posttraumatic stress disorder

Vanessa M. Brown, Kevin S. Labar, Courtney C. Haswell, Andrea L. Gold, Shannon K. Beall, Elizabeth Van Voorhees, Christine E. Marx, Patrick S. Calhoun, John A. Fairbank, Kimberly T. Green, Larry A. Tupler, Richard D. Weiner, Jean C. Beckham, Mira Brancu, Jeffrey M. Hoerle, Mary Pender, Harold Kudler, Cynthia M. Swinkels, Jason A. Nieuwsma, Jennifer J. RunnalsNagy A. Youssef, Scott D. McDonald, Rita Davison, Ruth Yoash-Gantz, Katherine H. Taber, Robin Hurley, Gregory McCarthy, Rajendra A. Morey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


The amygdala is a major structure that orchestrates defensive reactions to environmental threats and is implicated in hypervigilance and symptoms of heightened arousal in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The basolateral and centromedial amygdala (CMA) complexes are functionally heterogeneous, with distinct roles in learning and expressing fear behaviors. PTSD differences in amygdala-complex function and functional connectivity with cortical and subcortical structures remain unclear. Recent military veterans with PTSD (n=20) and matched trauma-exposed controls (n=22) underwent a resting-state fMRI scan to measure task-free synchronous blood-oxygen level dependent activity. Whole-brain voxel-wise functional connectivity of basolateral and CMA seeds was compared between groups. The PTSD group had stronger functional connectivity of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) complex with the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and dorsal ACC than the trauma-exposed control group (p<0.05; corrected). The trauma-exposed control group had stronger functional connectivity of the BLA complex with the left inferior frontal gyrus than the PTSD group (p<0.05; corrected). The CMA complex lacked connectivity differences between groups. We found PTSD modulates BLA complex connectivity with prefrontal cortical targets implicated in cognitive control of emotional information, which are central to explanations of core PTSD symptoms. PTSD differences in resting-state connectivity of BLA complex could be biasing processes in target regions that support behaviors central to prevailing laboratory models of PTSD such as associative fear learning. Further research is needed to investigate how differences in functional connectivity of amygdala complexes affect target regions that govern behavior, cognition, and affect in PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-359
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • PTSD
  • amygdala
  • basolateral amygdala
  • centromedial amygdala
  • functional connectivity
  • resting state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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