The Effects of Stress

PTSD Greyscale | Center for Lifespan Psychology

In a series of studies we aimed to investigate plasticity processes in response to traumatic and stressful events as well as the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Moreover, we assessed the effects of therapeutic intervention on a PTSD population and explored novel interventions for PTSD.

In one of the largest scale studies of PTSD ever conducted using fMRI, soldiers were assessed before and after deployment to armed conflict and post-conflict zones, using a battery of neuroimaging and psychological measures. This study aims to assess whether the structural and functional changes, in particular within the hippocampal formation (Kühn & Gallinat, 2013), observed in a PTSD population are present prior to PTSD (vulnerability hypothesis) or arise as a result of the development of PTSD (acquisition hypothesis).


Butler, O., Herr, K., Willmund, G., Gallinat, J., Zimmermann, P., & Kühn, S. (2018). Neural correlates of response bias: Larger hippocampal volume correlates with symptom aggravation in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 279, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2018.06.010

Butler, O., Willmund, G., Gleich, T., Gallinat, J., Kühn, S., & Zimmermann, P. (2018). Hippocampal gray matter increases following multimodal psychological treatment for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Brain and Behavior, 8: e00956. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.956

Butler, O., Willmund, G., Gleich, T., Zimmermann, P., Lindenberger, U., Gallinat, J., & Kühn, S. (2018). Cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression of negative emotion in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: A functional MRI study. Cognitive Therapy and Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-018-9905-x

Butler, O., Yang, X. F., Laube, C., Kühn, S., & Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2018). Community violence exposure correlates with smaller gray matter volume and lower IQ in urban adolescents. Human Brain Mapping, 39, 2088–2097. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23988

Tendolkar, I., Mårtensson, J., Kühn, S., Klumpers, F., & Fernandez, G. (2018). Physical neglect during childhood alters white matter connectivity in healthy young males. Human Brain Mapping, 39, 1283–1290. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23916

Butler, O., Adolf, J., Gleich, T., Willmund, G., Zimmermann, P., Lindenberger, U., ... Kühn, S. (2017). Military deployment correlates with smaller prefrontal gray matter volume and psychological symptoms in a subclinical population. Translational Psychiatry, 7:e1031. https//doi.org/10.1038/ tp.2016.288

Kühn, S., & Gallinat, J. (2013). Gray matter correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder: A quantitative meta-analysis. Biological Psychiatry, 73, 70–74. https//doi.org/10.1016/ j.biopsych. 2012.06.029


Simone Kühn, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (since 2016)

Oisin Butler (predoctoral fellow until 2018)

Collaboration Partners

Jürgen Gallinat, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
Peter Zimmermann, Bundeswehrkrankenhaus Berlin
Gerd Willmund, Bundeswehrkrankenhaus Berlin