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How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works in the Brain: Uncovering Possible Clues

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works in the Brain: Uncovering Possible Clues

January 2017

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is known to be an effective treatment for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But can we actually see these effects in the brain? To find out, this team used novel data-dimension methods to analyze the patients' longitudinal functional connectivity maps from resting state fMRI, and to characterize the dimensional direction of their brain changes after CBT.

They showed that CBT does increase connectivity between the amygdala and the fronto-parietal network. This may demonstrate how CBT works: by strengthening connections between the amygdala and brain regions involved in cognitive control, potentially providing enhanced top-down command of affective processes that are dysregulated in both MDD and PTSD.

Authors: 

Haochang Shou, Zhen Yang, Theodore D. Satterthwaite, Philip A Cook, Steven E. Bruce, Russell T. Shinohara, Benjamin Rosenberg, Yvette I. Sheline

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