What Parts of the Brain Are Impacted by PTSD?

From the frontal lobe (which houses our emotions) to the amygdala (which oversees our fight or flight response), Michael Roy, MD, Col. (Ret.) explains how parts of the brain are affected when injured by brain injury or a traumatic experience.

See more video clips with Dr. Michael Roy.

[Dr. Michael Roy] The memory parts—the hippocampus— kind of lower parts of the brain— are gonna tend to be activated because those are very strong memories. The amygdala is a part of the brain that we know in PTSD is often different. It works differently. It reacts more, and the amygdala goes way back to the days of the cavemen— escaping from the saber tooth tiger— so the fight or flight response. So people with PTSD tend to have greater reactions in that part of the brain than people who don't have it— even if they're exposed to the same sort of trauma. The frontal lobe—the front part of the brain is really important for emotions. So some of the withdrawal features of PTSD— the numbing, the avoidance kind of features— we think are more represented there, and we do see in those with PTSD characteristic differences there— that they tend to have lesser activations in those areas.
Posted on BrainLine May 24, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Comments (3)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

Can you have TBI from being a 81mm mortar gunner in Vietnam and it show up 44 years later as dementia along with PTSD?

Yes, there are other factors that will compound the effects of ptsd.

The impacts from PTSD and the current issues in society has paralyzed my life. Leaving me to deal with family members thinking it is drug-related. Society needs to START EDUCATING themselves on the signs and symptoms in varies cases of Men, women and children because NO ONE person is the same. Remember our Veteran's but DO NOT forget your FIRST RESPONDERS EITHER! Firefighters ambulance Police officers and hospital staff WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Stop judging assuming and relating signs and symptoms to drugs, You're killing us leaving us cast out from the ones we ones respected.