Research Article

Resilience after trauma: The role of memory suppression

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, eaay8477
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay8477

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  • RE: PTSD symptoms are not Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Philippe Birmes, Psychiatrist, MD, PhD, Toulouse NeuroImaging Center, Université de Toulouse, Inserm, UPS, France
    • Other Contributors:
      • Etienne Véry, Psychiatrist, MD, Toulouse NeuroImaging Center, Université de Toulouse, Inserm, UPS, France
      • Antoine Yrondi, Psychiatrist, MD, PhD, Toulouse NeuroImaging Center, Université de Toulouse, Inserm, UPS, France

    In “Resilience after trauma: The role of memory suppression” (February 14, p. 756), Mary et al. (1) demonstrated in a FMRI study that deficits in memory control facilitate the development of PTSD with a group of 102 individuals exposed to the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and a group of 73 unexposed individuals who were not present in Paris. However, some points should be highlighted. Not being present in Paris is not enough to be unexposed. Indeed, “learning that the traumatic event occurred to a close family member or a close friend” is a DSM-5 criterion A (exposure) (2, 3). In addition, only 29 (53%) patients from “PTSD group” presented with (full) PTSD and 26 with PTSD in a partial form. The PTSD in a partial form was not diagnosing according the recommendation to use one definition of subthreshold PTSD for DSM-based studies of one symptom within each cluster (4, 5).
    Moreover, the PTSD symptom severity was assessed with the PTSD CheckList for DSM-5 (PCL-5). The mean PCL-5 score for participants with Partial PTSD was of 31.63 (SD=12.63), however in French samples, a score≥32 categorizes a participant as having probable PTSD (6). The generalized disruption of the regulation signal that controls the reactivation of unwanted memories described in this study (1) was observed in a group of individuals exposed with different PTSD symptoms, among them 47% did not suffered from a PTSD.
    From a more technical point of view, exposed subjects were diagnosed using the Str...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: autobiographical memory

    This research article states that theories of PTSD implicate experiential avoidance of traumatic memories via thought suppression as detrimental and central to the maintenance of intrusion symptoms [T. Dalgleish, B. Hauer, W. Kuyken, The mental regulation of autobiographical recollection in the aftermath of trauma. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 17, 259–263 (2008). doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00586.x].

    This research article further states that a Region of interest (ROI), for the memory network, a bilateral brain region consistently reported as suppressed during memory suppression, includes, among others, the ventral part of the precuneus alongside the parietal sulcus that is associated with visual imagery, episodic, autobiographical, and trauma-related memories. [P. L. St. Jacques, K. K. Szpunar, D. L. Schacter, Shifting visual perspective during retrieval shapes autobiographical memories. Neuroimage 148, 103–114 (2017). doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.028pmid:27989780].

    According to Ginsburg and Jablonka (2019), language renders the experienced world "objective" because, among other things, "the common ground of the shared worlds led to the reification of what they signified -- the signifieds became 'objective' because they were shared through collective identification and went beyond the individual's idiosyncratic experience ... this objectification is related to the evolution of the human social emotions of guild, pride, sha...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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