Post-traumatic stress disorder: The neurobiological impact of psychological trauma

Jonathan E. Sherin, Charles B. Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

323 Scopus citations


The classic fight-or-flight response to perceived threat is a reflexive nervous phenomenon thai has obvious survival advantages in evolutionary terms. However, the systems that organize the constellation of reflexive survival behaviors following exposure to perceived threat can under some circumstances become dysregulated in the process. Chronic dysregulation of these systems can lead to functional impairment in certain individuals who become "psychologically traumatized" and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), A body of data accumulated over several decades has demonstrated neurobiological abnormalities in PTSD patients. Some of these findings offer insight into the pathophysiology of PTSD as well as the biological vulnerability of certain populations to develop PTSD, Several pathological features found in PTSD patients overlap with features found in patients with traumatic brain injury paralleling the shared signs and symptoms of these clinical syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-278
Number of pages16
JournalDialogues in clinical neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Biological markers
  • Pathophysiology
  • Psychological trauma
  • Psychopathology
  • Ptsd
  • Stress
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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