The Neurobiology of Psychotherapy: Emotional Reactivity and Regulation in PTSD

The investigators are seeking people who have been exposed to a traumatic event in the past and have symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) currently. A person with PTSD may feel significant distress when reminded of a traumatic event or feel depressed, anxious or jumpy. As a part of this study, participants will receive brain MRIs and office assessments before and after psychotherapy. The investigators provide the gold-standard psychotherapy for PTSD, "Prolonged Exposure", free of charge; additionally participants are compensated for their time during assessment procedures. This study is exploring the brain circuitry involved in improvement in response to psychotherapy.

Stanford is now accepting new patients for this trial. Please contact Kathy Peng, B.A. at 650-725-9510 for more information.



  • behavioral : Prolonged Exposure
  • behavioral : Prolonged exposure

Phase: N/A


Ages Eligible For Study:

18 Years - 60 Years

Inclusion Criteria

1. age between 18 and 60 years; 2. fMRI scanning eligibility, including no evidence of any form of metal embedded in the body (e.g., metal wires, nuts, bolts, screws, plates, sutures), as these produce artifacts when brain imaging; 3. not currently involved in an exposure-based psychotherapy, in order to be able to measure and interpret the effects of PE on PTSD; 4. must comprehend English well and show non-impaired intellectual abilities to ensure adequate comprehension of the fMRI task instructions and PE treatment; 5. no history of neurological or cardiovascular disorders, brain surgery, electroconvulsive or radiation treatment, brain hemorrhage or tumor, stroke, seizures or epilepsy, diabetes, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, head trauma with loss of consciousness greater than thirty minutes; 6. no regular use of benzodiazepine, opiate, thyroid, anticonvulsant or antipsychotic medications. Patients on stable doses of antidepressant medications will be allowed. Patients for whom antidepressant dosing is being actively titrated will be required to be on a stable dose for 1 month prior to inclusion in the study.

External Links

Contact information

Primary Contact:

Kathy Peng, B.A. 650-725-9510

Stanford University School of Medicine 300 Pasteur Drive Stanford, CA 94305

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