Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Regulating Emotion After Experiencing A Sexual Assault

Date:
October 22, 2009
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
After exposure to extreme life stresses, what distinguishes the individuals who do and do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder? A new study suggests that it has something to do with the way that we control the activity of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region thought to orchestrate our thoughts and actions.

After exposure to extreme life stresses, what distinguishes the individuals who do and do not develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? A new study, published in the October 1st issue of

Related Articles


Biological Psychiatry

, suggests that it has something to do with the way that we control the activity of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region thought to orchestrate our thoughts and actions.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine examined women who had been the victims of violent sexual assault, some of whom developed PTSD and others who did not develop any serious emotional symptoms afterwards. Using a brain imaging technique, they evaluated the ability of these women to voluntarily modify their own responses to unpleasant emotional stimuli and found that it was the trauma history itself, not how well they endured this sort of trauma, that influenced their ability to dampen subsequent emotional responses.

Surprisingly, however, the ability of the subjects to amplify their emotional responses to unpleasant stimuli was related to psychological outcome after the sexual assault. The resilient individuals, that is, those who endured sexual assault without developing emotional symptoms, were able to enhance the activation of emotional brain circuitry in response to unpleasant stimuli more than either those with PTSD or healthy controls who had never experienced a serious sexual assault.

Corresponding author Dr. Antonia New explained the findings: "This raises the possibility that the ability to focus on negative emotions permits the engagement of cognitive strategies for extinguishing negative emotional responses, and that this ability might be related to resilience. This is important, since it has implications for how we might enhance resilience."

These findings suggest that exposure to extremely stressful situations may leave an "emotional scar" that may influence the capacity to be resilient to the impact of subsequent stressors, even when one does not develop PTSD. "These data seem to support an idea that has emerged from clinical descriptions of resilient people, i.e., that people who are resilient are able to be flexible in the way that they respond to changing emotional contexts. It would be helpful to know how we can enhance the flexible activation of these prefrontal cortex networks in people with compromised resilience," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Dr. New agrees, adding that "perhaps the enrichment of the broad capacity to tolerate negative emotional experiences might be helpful in promoting resilience. Further work needs to be done on whether the feature of this capacity that relates to resilience is about the ability to tolerate one's one responses, or whether it is the ability to respond distress in others."



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. New et al. A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Deliberate Emotion Regulation in Resilience and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 2009; 66 (7): 656 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.05.020

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Regulating Emotion After Experiencing A Sexual Assault." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101534.htm>.
Elsevier. (2009, October 22). Regulating Emotion After Experiencing A Sexual Assault. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101534.htm
Elsevier. "Regulating Emotion After Experiencing A Sexual Assault." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101534.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) A dongle that plugs into a Smartphone mimics a lab-based blood test for HIV and syphilis and can detect the diseases in 15 minutes, say researchers. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) An Italian doctor is saying he could stick someone&apos;s head onto someone else&apos;s body. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) reports. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

Newsy (Feb. 27, 2015) A new study from researchers at New York University suggests dentists could soon use blood samples taken from patients&apos; mouths to test for diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Tips to Makeover Your Health

The Best Tips to Makeover Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) If you&apos;re looking to boost your health this season, there are a few quick and easy steps to prompt you for success. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best tips to give your health a makeover this spring! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins