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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Exposure to psychological trauma is sometimes followed by significant emotional and behavioral changes that constitute post-traumatic stress reactions, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Neurocognitive decrements constitute one of the core features of PTSD, and a growing literature has identified specific patterns of neurocognitive compromise and related neurobiological features. This chapter provides an overview of neurocognitive features of PTSD, including performance on both standardized, emotionally neutral neuropsychological tasks and information processing abnormalities in the context of emotionally relevant stimuli. Direction of causality is also discussed, namely whether neurocognitive integrity is a moderator of psychological outcomes following trauma exposure and/or whether neurocognition is adversely affected by PTSD development. The chapter also includes a review of associated biological features potentially underlying expressed neurocognitive features, including neuroimaging findings, neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine characteristics, and genetic and epigenetic factors. In addition, it provides a brief overview of some of the major theoretical frameworks relevant to cognitive processes as a mechanism for PTSD development and maintenance. Finally, the chapter addresses the relationship of neurocognitive functioning to treatment, both as a predictor of treatment response and as an outcome of treatment.

Keywords: neuropsychology, posttraumatic stress disorder, cognitive abnormalities, information processing abnormalities, cognitive functioning, functional neuroanatomy, biomarkers, fear conditioning, traumatic memory, treatment

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