Emotional brain rhythms and their impairment in post-traumatic patients

Authors

  • Jonathan E. Cohen,

    1. Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
    Current affiliation:
    1. Sharett Institute of Oncology, Hadassah Medical Organization, Jerusalem, Israel
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  • Hadar Shalev,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Soroka University Medical Center and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
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  • Roee Admon,

    1. Functional Brain Center, Wohl Institute for Advanced Imaging, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
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  • Shy Hefetz,

    1. Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
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  • Christopher J. Gasho,

    1. Department of Radiology, Soroka University Medical Center and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
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  • Lavi J. Shachar,

    1. Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
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  • Ilan Shelef,

    1. Department of Radiology, Soroka University Medical Center and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
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  • Talma Hendler,

    1. Functional Brain Center, Wohl Institute for Advanced Imaging, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
    2. Departments of Psychology, Physiology and Pharmacology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
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  • Alon Friedman

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
    • Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Guion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva POB 653, 84105, Israel
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Abstract

Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffer from a failure of cognitive control over emotional distracters. The physiological substrates of cognitive-emotional interactions and their breakdown in disease are, however, unknown. Here, we studied brain activity in PTSD patients and healthy controls in response to emotion-provoking pictures using electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We demonstrate that in healthy individuals, emotion-induced frontal theta rhythm modulates activity in the beta rhythm mainly in sensory-motor regions. In contrast, in PTSD patients, beta activity is elevated irrespective of emotion, and is not modulated by frontal theta activity in response to negative emotion. EEG source localization and fMRI findings suggest that theta activity is localized to the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices while beta activity is localized to sensory-motor regions. We further found that beta activity in sensory-motor regions is related to the emotion-induced slowing of the motor response in healthy controls while the excess frontal theta activity in PTSD is related to the intensity of negative emotional experience. These findings reveal for the first time the importance of brain electrical oscillations and coherence in emotional top-down modulation and point to specific failure of these mechanisms in PTSD. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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