Structural changes

Brain structural alterations have been observed in people with PTSD. These alterations are have been found using magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging. Telomere length has also been investigated. Click on the tabs below to access the information, or browse the drop-down menu to the left.

Image: ©efks – Fotolia –

Diffusion tensor imaging

What is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in PTSD? DTI is a specialised imaging technique that uses MRI technology to investigate the movement of water within tissues of interest. By applying a magnetic field, the movement (“diffusivity”) of water molecules can be visualised in vivo. The diffusion of water is influenced by the cellular structure of the surrounding tissues, and measures such as fractional anisotropy (FA) were derived as an approximate measurement for the freedom of movement. In areas of high structural coherence such as white matter, FA is highest, indicating that water is moving in relatively fixed directions. It is…



What is structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in PTSD? The technology of structural MRI is based on the magnetisation properties of cellular protons. The application of a strong magnetic field causes the protons within cells to shift direction, which will return to their original position over time (“precession”). The rate of precession differs across tissue types (such as grey matter and white matter in the brain), which can be interpreted by specialised programs to represent a 3D image. Many mental disorders have shown brain structural changes investigated with MRI, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. What is the evidence for changes…

Telomere length

What is telomere length in PTSD? Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. They are linked to aging as they shorten with each cell division, and when they reach a critical length, the cell stops dividing or dies. Chronic stress has been associated with reduced telomere length, resulting in the recognition of an association between adverse social and environmental influences and accelerated aging. Telomere length has been found to be shorter in people with schizophrenia, but not in people with bipolar disorder. It has recently been investigated in people with PTSD. What is the evidence for telomere length…

NeuRA Libraries

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