Neurological Sciences

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 59–68 | Cite as

Evidence of diffuse damage in frontal and occipital cortex in the brain of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Maricla Tavanti
  • Marco Battaglini
  • Federico Borgogni
  • Letizia Bossini
  • Sara Calossi
  • Daniela Marino
  • Gianpaolo Vatti
  • Fulvio Pieraccini
  • Antonio Federico
  • Paolo Castrogiovanni
  • Nicola De Stefano
Original Article


A number of MRI studies have shown focal or diffuse cortical gray matter (GM) abnormalities in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the results of these studies are unclear regarding the cortical regions involved in this condition, perhaps due to the heterogeneity of the PTSD population included or to the differences in the methodology used for the quantification of the brain structures. In this study, we assessed differences in cortical GM volumes between a selected group of 25 drug-naive PTSD patients with history of adulthood trauma and 25 matched non-traumatized controls. Analyses were performed by using two different automated methods: the structural image evaluation using normalization of atrophy (SIENAX) and the voxel-based morphometry (VBM), as we trusted that if these complementary techniques provided similar results, it would increase the confidence in the validity of the assessment. Results of SIENAX and VBM analyses similarly showed that cortical GM volume decreases in PTSD patients when compared to healthy controls, particularly in the frontal and occipital lobes. These decreases seem to correlate with clinical measures. Our findings suggest that in drug-naïve PTSD patients with a history of adulthood trauma, brain structural damage is diffuse, with a particular prevalence for the frontal and occipital lobes, and is clinically relevant.


PTSD Brain cortex SIENAX VBM 



The authors wish to thank all the subjects for their participation in the study. Institutional funds of the Department of Neuroscience, University of Siena.

Conflict of interest

All Authors have no biomedical financial or potential conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maricla Tavanti
    • 1
  • Marco Battaglini
    • 2
  • Federico Borgogni
    • 2
  • Letizia Bossini
    • 1
  • Sara Calossi
    • 1
  • Daniela Marino
    • 2
  • Gianpaolo Vatti
    • 3
  • Fulvio Pieraccini
    • 1
  • Antonio Federico
    • 2
  • Paolo Castrogiovanni
    • 1
  • Nicola De Stefano
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychiatric Division, Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of Siena School of MedicineSienaItaly
  2. 2.Neurology and Neurometabolic Unit, Department of Neurological and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Siena School of MedicineSienaItaly
  3. 3.Neurology Division, Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of Siena School of MedicineSienaItaly

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