Sensory Disinhibition, Cognitive Flexibility and the Neural Correlates Underlying Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Simultaneous EEG-fMRI Study

Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often struggle to relax, or simply be at ‘rest.’ In particular, recent research has revealed participants with PTSD show hyper-activity across the visual cortex while at rest. Referred to as sensory hyper-activity and disinhibition, altered resting-state patterns are thought to be underlying hypervigilance and re-living sensations clinically, as well as cognitive deficits, which may be produced when cognitive resources are overwhelmed by sensory hyper-activity. Nonetheless, research has been slow to characterize sensory hyper-activity and disinhibition, as well as any downstream effects related to such a sensory pathology. Therefore, we plan to analyze the neural correlates underlying sensory hyper-activity and disinhibition, as well as cognitive flexibility, since cognitive flexibility has been revealed to serve as a protective factor post-trauma(s). In particular, we plan to record electroencephalography (EEG) and functional MRI (fMRI) simultaneously, where we may reveal the temporal and the spatial correlates related to the above. Simultaneous EEG-fMRI, critically, has never been used to study PTSD and may be analyzed by advanced machine learning algorithms to reveal the biomarkers relevant to trauma-related psychopathology. Homewood Research Institute conducts research on trauma-exposed populations and stands to benefit by advancing more personalized, research-guided therapy for participants with PTSD.

Faculty Supervisor:

Margaret McKinnon


Braeden Alexander Terpou


Homewood Research Institute




Health care and social assistance


McMaster University



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