The role of heightened arousal has been previously discussed as a contributor to neurocognitive impairment in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To investigate whether psychological effects (distraction, re-location of resources) elicited by the evocation of traumatic memories impact on subsequent cognitive performance in PTSD, two parallel versions of a working memory task were administered to 33 trauma-exposed participants (15 with and 18 without PTSD). Between first and second working memory assessment a trauma-related interview was conducted including the narration of the trauma. Levels of working memory impairment in PTSD patients remained unchanged. This study provides preliminary evidence that neurocognitive impairment is not secondary to psychological effects induced by the evocation of traumatic memories. Nevertheless, it is recommended that future PTSD research should devote more care to the order in which trauma-related and other dependent variables such as cognitive tests are presented to participants.
- Anxiety disorders