The Impact of the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Gene on Trauma and Spatial Processing.

12 Feb 2018

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an increasingly visible mental health issue that represents a considerable public health burden across many civilian and professional populations. With mounting pressure on health, military and emergency response sectors (https://www.pdtrust.org/help/research/post-traumatic-stress/) to look after the psychological wellbeing of their staff in the face of unprecedented demand from major incidents and resource deficits, understanding PTSD has perhaps never been so critical. Fortuitously, neuropsychological research over recent years has also moved at a commensurate pace and in this paper, we seize the opportunity to reflect on the progress (and pitfalls) of that research. We review recent literature, present findings from exploratory research and highlight design issues which may be key to understanding how genetic and environmental conditions interact to influence PTSD vulnerability, etiology and recovery. To do this, we look at another area of cognitive function—navigation—which may provide us with vital information about the resilience of a specific part of our brain (the hippocampus) on which we rely to process trauma exposure.