Learning and memory in Holocaust survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder

Rachel Yehuda, Julia A. Golier, Sarah L. Halligan, Philip D. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Impairments in explicit memory have been observed in Holocaust survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder. Methods: To evaluate which memory components are preferentially affected, the California Verbal Learning Test was administered to Holocaust survivors with (n = 36) and without (n = 26) posttraumatic stress disorder, and subjects not exposed to the Holocaust (n = 40). Results: Posttraumatic stress disorder subjects showed impairments in learning and short-term and delayed retention compared to nonexposed subjects; survivors without posttraumatic stress disorder did not. Impairments in learning, but not retention, were retained after controlling for intelligence quotient. Older age was associated with poorer learning and memory performance in the posttraumatic stress disorder group only. Conclusions: The most robust impairment observed in posttraumatic stress disorder was in verbal learning, which may be a risk factor for or consequence of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. The negative association between performance and age may reflect accelerated cognitive decline in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-295
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • California Verbal Learning Test
  • Holocaust
  • Memory
  • PTSD
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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