The Specificity of Inhibitory Control Deficits in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Dissociation Between the Speed and Reliability of Stopping

Diane Swick, Victoria Ashley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Inhibitory control over thoughts, emotions, and actions is challenging for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Whether specific aspects of inhibitory control are differentially affected in PTSD remains an open question. Here we examined performance on two popular response inhibition tasks in 28 combat Veterans with PTSD and 27 control Veterans. We used a Hybrid variant that intermixed 75% Go trials, 12.5% NoGo trials, and 12.5% Stop trials. Parameters from an ex-Gaussian race model (Matzke et al., 2017) provided estimates of stopping speed (μ Stop) and stopping variability (τ Stop). Participants with PTSD had higher error rates on NoGo trials, replicating previous results. The estimated probability of “trigger failures” (failures to launch inhibitory control) on Stop trials was also higher in PTSD patients, suggesting that sustained attention was a common deficit in the two tasks. Stopping variability was also increased in participants with PTSD, which supports a difficulty with maintaining task goals. Conversely, stopping speed did not differ between patients and controls, suggesting that core inhibitory processes were intact. These results demonstrate a dissociation between the speed and reliability of motor response inhibition in PTSD, and suggest that top-down inhibitory control was deployed less consistently in participants with PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102278
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume75
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Cognitive Control
  • Executive Control
  • Go/NoGo
  • PTSD
  • Response Inhibition
  • Stop-signal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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