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Keywords:

  • rape;
  • PTSD;
  • memory;
  • trauma;
  • neuropsychology

Abstract

The accumulative effect of prior high-magnitude trauma exposure on memory was examined in 73 rape victims, 92% of whom had current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants were administered the Logical Memory component of the Wechsler Memory Scale, the Quick Test to obtain an estimate of intelligence, and were assessed for prior traumatic experiences. Prior exposure to high-magnitude stressors (e.g., child rape, being kidnapped) was significantly correlated with poorer performance on the memory tasks. Regression analyses controlling for estimated IQ and psychopathology severity demonstrated that magnitude of prior trauma exposure predicted performance on the memory task, suggesting that in the current sample, deficits in verbal memory may be related (in part) to the degree of accumulative stress experienced over the lifetime.