Experimental trauma rapidly modifies functional connectivity

Geraldine Gvozdanovic, Erich Seifritz, Philipp Stämpfli, Antonietta Canna, Björn Rasch, Fabrizio Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Traumatic events can produce emotional, cognitive and autonomous physical responses. This may ultimately lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric syndrome which requires comprehensive treatment. Trauma exposure alters functional connectivity; however, onset and nature of these changes are unknown. Here, we explore functional connectivity changes at rest directly after experimental trauma exposure. Seventy-three healthy subjects watched either a trauma or a control film. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging measurements were conducted before and directly after the film. Seed-based analyses revealed trauma-related changes in functional connectivity, specifically including decreases of connectivity between amygdala and middle temporal gyrus and increases between hippocampus and precuneus. These central effects were accompanied by trauma-related increases in heart rate. Moreover, connectivity between the amygdala and middle temporal gyrus predicted subsequent trauma-related valence. Our results demonstrate rapid functional connectivity changes in memory-related brain regions at rest after experimental trauma, selectively relating to changes in emotions evoked by the trauma manipulation. Results could represent an early predictive biomarker for the development of trauma-related PTSD and thus provide an indication for the need of early targeted preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2017-2030
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Clinical Research Priority Programs ‘Sleep and Health’ and ‘Molecular Imaging’ of the University of Zurich, the Forschungskredit of the University of Zurich (grant no FK-16-074) and a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 100014_162388).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Connectivity
  • Resting state fMRI
  • Trauma
  • Trauma film paradigm


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