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Poster A47

Impaired scene construction ability in adolescents with symptoms of post-traumatic stress

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Hannah Marlatte1,2, Jennifer Ryan1,2,3, Asaf Gilboa1,2; 1Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Hospital, 2Psychology Department, University of Toronto, 3Psychiatry Department, University of Toronto

Introduction: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with structural and functional hippocampal (HPC) impairments. HPC differences are less consistently noted in adolescent PTSD, however symptom severity may predict hippocampal volume loss in adulthood. Previously, we have found that performance on a generative scene construction task was impaired in adults with PTSD, which was correlated with symptom severity and smaller HPC volumes. Here we aimed to explore this in adolescence. Methods: Twenty-seven adolescents conjured-up then described novel scenes: 15 were exposed to trauma with varying degrees of PTSD symptom severity, and 12 non-trauma-exposed controls. We examined the relationship between symptom severity and scene construction as a continuous measure using linear regressions, regardless of group membership. Results: Intrusive recollections negatively predicted overall scene construction performance. Notably, there were trends of avoidance symptoms and overall distress positively predicting and depression severity negatively predicting performance. This was driven by differences in detail generation rather than qualitative aspects of the scenes. Discussion: Those who experienced greater intrusive recollections performed worse at the scene construction task. Although with a limited sample size, these results align with previous research finding that individuals with PTSD are impaired at scene construction and perhaps compensate by generating more person-related details, regardless of being in adolescence or adulthood. Additionally, these trends provide insight into the nuanced relationship within post-traumatic symptomatology, in that intrusive re-experiencing and avoidance may have an inverse impact on memory processing.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024