A review of hippocampal activation in post-traumatic stress disorder

Sonalee A. Joshi, Elizabeth R. Duval, Bradley Kubat, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often characterized by deficits in memory encoding and retrieval and aberrant fear and extinction learning. The hippocampus plays a critical role in memory and contextual processing and has been implicated in intrinsic functional connectivity networks involved in self-referential thought and memory-related processes. This review focuses on hippocampal activation findings during memory and fear and extinction learning tasks, as well as resting state hippocampal connectivity in individuals with PTSD. A preponderance of functional neuroimaging studies to date, using memory, fear learning, and extinction tasks, report decreased or “controls comparable” hippocampal activation in individuals with PTSD, which is usually associated with poorer performance on the task imaged. Existing evidence thus raises the possibility that greater hippocampal recruitment in PTSD participants may be required for similar performance levels. Studies of resting state functional connectivity in PTSD predominantly report reduced within-network connectivity in the default mode network (DMN), as well as greater coupling between the DMN and salience network (SN) via the hippocampus. Together, these findings suggest that deficient hippocampal activation in PTSD may be associated with poorer performance during memory, extinction recall, and fear renewal tasks. Furthermore, studies of resting state connectivity implicate the hippocampus in decreased within-network DMN connectivity and greater coupling with SN regions characteristic of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13357
Pages (from-to)e13357
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • PTSD
  • extinction learning
  • fMRI
  • fear learning
  • hippocampus
  • memory
  • resting state
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall/physiology
  • Nerve Net/diagnostic imaging
  • Connectome
  • Fear/physiology
  • Extinction, Psychological/physiology
  • Hippocampus/diagnostic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)


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