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Neural correlates of the modified Stroop effect in post-traumatic stress disorder: an event-related potential study

Chen, Xiaoyia,b,c*; Wei, Dongtaoa,b*; Dupuis-Roy, Nicolasd; Du, Xuea,b; Qiu, Jianga,b; Zhang, Qinglina,b

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32835a989e
Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

Previous studies have provided electrophysiological evidence for attentional abnormalities in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present study examined the electrophysiological activity of trauma-exposed patients with or without a PTSD during a modified Stroop task. The PTSD group showed a reduced P2 and P3 amplitude relative to the non-PTSD group under both the earthquake-related and earthquake-unrelated words conditions. Importantly, the earthquake-related words elicited a greater P3 amplitude (350–450 ms after stimulus) than did unrelated words in the non-PTSD group, whereas no significant difference was found in the PTSD group. This indicates that PTSD patients had some attention deficits compared with non-PTSD individuals, and that these attention deficits were not just limited to earthquake-related words.

aKey Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (SWU), Ministry of Education

bSchool of Psychology, Southwest University

cSchool of Education, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing, China

dDepartment of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

*Xiaoyi Chen and Dongtao Wei contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Correspondence to Jiang Qiu, PhD, School of Psychology, Southwest University, Beibei, 400715 Chongqing, China Tel: +86 23 6836 7942; fax: +86 023 6825 3629; e-mail:

Received July 27, 2012

Accepted September 19, 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.