Current understanding of the psychobiology of trauma


Aside from marked advances in the treatment of PTSD in the last few years, the other major field of discovery has been in the area of neurobiology. Probes into stress hormone changes, as well as neuro-imaging, have provided us with new clues about how the body reacts differently to overwhelming experiences during different developmental phases, as well as how traumatic memories are stored differently from memories of everyday experience. This lecture will review the current status of the field of the neurobiology of PTSD, present some preliminary data about how EMDR may affect the processing of traumatic memories in the brain, and challenge the audience to start collecting data to see whether the clinical improvements seen in successfully treated patients is reflected in a reversal of neuro-biological phenomena which often are considered to be irreversible.






Bessel A. van der Kolk

Original Work Citation

van der Kolk, B. A. (1997, July). Current understanding of the psychobiology of trauma. Presentation at the 2nd EMDR International Association Conference, San Francisco, CA



“Current understanding of the psychobiology of trauma,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 20, 2022,

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