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Executive Function in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Executive Function in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Executive Function in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Jennifer Newman

, and Charles R. Marmar


This chapter discusses the role of executive function in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is far from fully understood. Deficits are subtle and findings are often inconsistent. Impairments have been related to worsening of psychological symptoms, functioning, and quality of life. They can also negatively impact treatment. Functional imaging shows that neurocognitive deficits in PTSD may be related to an imbalance in brain connectivity, where emotion processing is enhanced and control is reduced. Structural findings show abnormalities in brain regions involved in higher-level functions. However, findings are often discrepant. Factors related to these inconclusive results are considered, including developmental course, premorbid functioning, and comorbidities such as traumatic brain injury, depression, substance use, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, health behaviors, and medical concerns. Treatment implications, limitations of this work, and future directions are presented. The aim of future research is to advance scientific understanding of PTSD, neurocognitive impairments, and related conditions, with the goal of improving outcomes for those who encounter trauma.

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