Journal Article Neural Basis of Psychological Growth following Adverse Experiences: A Resting-State Functional MRI Study

Fujisawa, Takashi X.  ,  Jung, Minyoung  ,  Kojima, Masahiko  ,  Saito, Daisuke N.  ,  Kosaka, Hirotaka  ,  Tomoda, Akemi

10p.e0136427 , 2015-08-20 , Public Library of Science
Over the past decade, research on the aftereffects of stressful or traumatic events has emphasized the negative outcomes from these experiences. However, the positive outcomes deriving from adversity are increasingly being examined, and such positive changes are described as posttraumatic growth (PTG). To investigate the relationship between basal whole-brain functional connectivity and PTG, we employed resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and analyzed the neural networks using independent component analysis in a sample of 33 healthy controls. Correlations were calculated between the network connectivity strength and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) score. There were positive associations between the PTGI scores and brain activation in the rostral prefrontal cortex and superior parietal lobule (SPL) within the left central executive network (CEN) (respectively, r = 0.41, p < 0.001; r = 0.49, p < 0.001). Individuals with higher psychological growth following adverse experiences had stronger activation in prospective or working memory areas within the executive function network than did individuals with lower psychological growth (r = 0.40, p < 0.001). Moreover, we found that individuals with higher PTG demonstrated stronger connectivity between the SPL and supramarginal gyrus (SMG). The SMG is one of the brain regions associated with the ability to reason about the mental states of others, otherwise known as mentalizing. These findings suggest that individuals with higher psychological growth may have stronger functional connectivity between memory functions within the CEN and social functioning in the SMG, and that their better sociality may result from using more memory for mentalizing during their daily social interactions.

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