Information processing

What is information processing in PTSD?

Information processing may be disrupted in people with PTSD. It can be assessed using various tests that assess general processing and speed.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) digit symbol coding test presents participants with paired numbers and symbols and when shown several numbers, participants must write down the missing corresponding symbols as quickly as possible.

The Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) requires an ability to shift cognitive sets; participants are told to match stimulus cards containing varying coloured shapes, based first on colour, then quantity, then design. The participant is then given additional cards and asked to match each one without being told any matching rules, so participants usually match according to the previous rule. Feedback is provided as to whether their match was correct or incorrect, based on a new and undisclosed matching rule, that changes during the task.

The Trail Making Test (TMT) requires participants to connect, in order, letters and/or numbers as quickly as possible.

The Stroop Colour Word Test (SCWT), presents colour names printed in an ink congruent to the colour name (e.g. blue), or incongruent to the colour name (e.g. blue). Participants are asked to either read the word or name the ink colour.

Category fluency (e.g. animal naming) is an oral test that requires participants to name as many of a category (e.g. types of animals) in one minute.

The Stockings of Cambridge (SOC) planning task requires participants to mentally plan a sequence of moves needed to complete a task in the fewest number of moves before beginning the task.

What is the evidence for information processing in people with PTSD?

Moderate quality evidence finds medium-sized effects showing people with PTSD had poorer information processing than controls without PTSD.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:20 pm, 15th February 2022
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