Functional and structural neuroimaging and EEG monitoring related to EMDR and CBT treatments for PTSD


In the recent past several neuroimaging studies aimed at evaluating the neural correlates of PTSD-related psychotherapies revealing their neurobiological effects on brain function. Functional studies by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and electroencephalography (EEG) detected changes in cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation patterns, identifying the brain areas implicated in the various components of emotional processing and/or affected by the disorder. Investigations by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have also revealed PTSD-related structural changes.
The first part of the workshop will review the neuroimaging methodologies and findings in PTSD treatment-related research with an extensive review of previous literature on the neurobiological effects of the various psychotherapies. The second part will deal with the description and implementation in research and clinic of neuropsychological testing with brief comments and discussion about their use in recent studies published by our group. In the third part the EEG monitoring of a complete set of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapies in 30 patients suffering of major trauma as compared to 20 healthy controls will be presented. These findings will also be compared to the neurobiological effects of trauma-focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in a second group of psychologically traumatized clients. The results are the first report ever on the neurobiological changes occurring before, during and after PTSD-related psychotherapies shedding light on the neuronal processes underlying their clinical efficacy.
The description and the discussion about the contents of the workshop will provide the audience (1) the necessary information to understand the methodological principles behind neuroimaging techniques (SPECT, EEG and MRI) and their possible applications in research and clinic; (2) the up-dated critical knowledge of the published papers in the field of PTSD-related psychotherapies functional and anatomical studies; (3) the basic research principles and examples to be motivated to start, take part and/or collaborate to functional studies in order to better understand the neural basis of psychotherapeutic techniques. The presented material will represent the state-of-the-art of the current neuroscience PTSD-related research and of the neuroimaging methodologies available at the moment.






Marco Pagani

Original Work Citation

Pagani, M. (2013, June). Functional and structural neuroimaging and EEG monitoring related to EMDR and CBT treatments for PTSD. Presentation at the 13th annual conference for the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS), Bologna, Italy



“Functional and structural neuroimaging and EEG monitoring related to EMDR and CBT treatments for PTSD,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 4, 2020,

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