Of special relevance to the symptoms of PTSD, lesions to the PFC impair http://www.selleckchem.com/products/Cisplatin.html the ability to concentrate or focus attention (Wilkins et al., 1987 and Chao and Knight, 1995), and can weaken impulse control and produce reckless behavior (Aron, 2011). Bilateral
lesions to the vmPFC impair modulation of emotional reactions, including increased irritability, impaired decision-making, and lack of insight (Barrash et al., 2000). PFC lesions can also impair the ability to inhibit cognitive interference, e.g. inhibiting inappropriate memories (Thompson-Schill et al., 2002), or inappropriate dimensions as tested by the Stroop interference task (Golden, 1976). The dorsal PFC is needed for reality testing (Simons et al., 2008), a property selleck inhibitor important for distinguishing a vivid memory from an actual event, i.e. the flashbacks that occur in PTSD. Finally, the PFC can regulate our state of arousal, e.g. through projections to the NE neurons where it can inhibit LC firing (Sara and Herve-Minvielle, 1995), and reduce the stress response (Amat et al., 2006). Thus, the PFC can provide widespread orchestration of brain physiology needed for calm, rational and flexible responding. The amygdala also has extensive connections through much of the brain, and is positioned to initiate and coordinate an unconscious, primitive stress reaction throughout the brain and body (Fig. 2; reviewed in Davis, 1992 and Price and Amaral,
1981). The amygdala can Electron transport chain activate the traditional HPA axis (hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal gland) via projections
to the hypothalamus, and the sympathetic nervous system through projections to hypothalamus and brainstem (Davis, 1992). It can rapidly alter behavior as well, e.g. inducing the freezing response through projections to the peri-aqueductal gray, and increasing the startle response through parallel brainstem projections (Davis, 1992). Amygdala projections to striatum strengthen habitual responses (Elliott and Packard, 2008), while those to hippocampus can strengthen the consolidation of emotionally-charged memories (Roozendaal and McGaugh, 2011) (although with severe stress the hippocampus may also be weakened, perhaps contributing to amnesia (Kim and Yoon, 1998)). Importantly, the amygdala mediates fear conditioning, whereby a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a hot day), can trigger a fear response after it is paired with a traumatic event (Phelps and LeDoux, 2005). Thus, the amygdala can perpetuate a stress response long after a trauma is over. In contrast, circuits within the PFC are needed to extinguish a conditioned response to a traumatic event and return to normative behavior (Quirk and Mueller, 2008). The amygdala also drives the arousal systems, e.g. increasing the firing of the NE neurons of the LC (Van Bockstaele et al., 1998), and dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the midbrain (Phillipson, 1979).