Impaired declarative memory performance and smaller hippocampal volume have been observed in young and middle-aged adults with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These alterations may put trauma survivors with PTSD at greater risk for cognitive decline in later life. This article focuses on the emerging literature on neuropsychological impairment in aging trauma survivors, in particular, elderly combat veterans and survivors of the Holocaust. In veterans and in Holocaust survivors, PTSD was associated with substantial impairments in learning, free and cued recall, and recognition memory compared to the respective nonexposed subjects; however, in neither group was PTSD associated with impaired retention or "rapid forgetting." Additionally, PTSD was not associated with smaller right or left hippocampal volume in either cohort. PTSD is associated with considerable cognitive burden with age. Longitudinal studies of older subjects are warranted to examine whether PTSD is associated with accelerated aging or progressive memory loss.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)