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Brain Response to Treatment for Pediatric PTSD

This study has been completed.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Amy Sue Garrett, Stanford University Identifier:
First received: February 27, 2013
Last updated: October 12, 2016
Last verified: October 2016
This study will examine how brain activation changes as a result of behavioral treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adolescents. The investigators will conduct functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans before and after the widely-used trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy to better understand how the brain recovers from illness. This study will provide much needed information about brain abnormalities in abused youth, and could lead to improvements in behavioral treatments for patients who do not respond to current treatments.

Condition Intervention
Emotions Memory Deficits Post-traumatic Syndrome Behavioral: Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Basic Science
Official Title: Biomarkers of Clinical Response to Cognitive Treatment of PTSD in Youth

Further study details as provided by Amy Sue Garrett, Stanford University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging (brain activation) [ Time Frame: change in brain activation after 4 months of treatment (baseline and 4 months) ]
    We will use functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure changes in brain activation after 4 months of psychotherapy

Enrollment: 68
Study Start Date: April 2013
Study Completion Date: May 2016
Primary Completion Date: May 2016 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Psychotherapy
Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral: Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy
the 'gold-standard' behavioral treatment for children/adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder
Other Name: TF-CBT

Detailed Description:

This is a neuroimaging study of changes in brain function associated with trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT)for abused youth suffering from PTSD. By scanning patients before and after treatment, the investigators will identify mediators (potential mechanisms) of recovery from PTSD.

Childhood maltreatment is unfortunately common, and can lead to significant problems in school, emotional difficulties, and physical ailments. Frequently, abused children develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as re-experiencing aspects of the trauma, avoiding trauma-related situations, and suffering from chronic hyperarousal. PTSD can inflict significant stress-related damage on the brain at any age, but may be particularly damaging during developmental periods such as adolescence. Therefore, effective treatments for PTSD in youth are critical, and this depends in part on our ability to understand the neural abnormalities underlying pediatric PTSD, and the brain changes accompanying recovery from PTSD.

TF-CBT is the "gold-standard" treatment for this population however, some patients continue to experience symptoms of PTSD following treatment. Examining neural changes associated with successful treatment may suggest adjunctive or additional steps to enhance recovery in non-responders or partly responsive patients.

The investigators will assess brain activation in response to an emotion-related task in 40 adolescents with PTSD before and after a 12 week TF-CBT treatment, conducted at Stanford University. The fidelity of TF-CBT treatment will be assured through ongoing consultation between clinicians and treatment co-creator Judith Cohen, M.D. Neuroimaging analyses will assess patterns of activation associated with response to TF-CBT. Also, the investigators will scan 30 age-matched healthy controls recruited from the same community, to compare with patients to identify abnormalities in brain structure and function in the PTSD group. Controls will be scanned before and after a 12-week interval as well, to allow analyses of test/retest reliability of fMRI measures in this age group.


Ages Eligible for Study:   9 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • ages 12-17, history of physical or sexual abuse, witnessing violence, or bullying; and English speaking

Exclusion Criteria:

  • receiving other psychotherapy currently, taking medications for a psychiatric disorder currently, history of head injury with loss of consciousness longer than 5 minutes; major medical condition such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, or loss of hearing or vision, developmental disorder such as fragile X, autism, or Down's Syndrome, MRI contraindications including metal in the body from an injury or surgery, non-removeable piercings, or braces, Intelligence Quotient (IQ) < 70; schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, current substance abuse.
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01806701

United States, California
Stanford University
Palo Alto, California, United States, 94305
Sponsors and Collaborators
Stanford University
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Principal Investigator: Amy S Garrett, Ph.D. Stanford University
  More Information

Responsible Party: Amy Sue Garrett, Principle Investigator, Stanford University Identifier: NCT01806701     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: MH097769
K01MH097769 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: February 27, 2013
Last Updated: October 12, 2016
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

Keywords provided by Amy Sue Garrett, Stanford University:

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Memory Disorders
Neurobehavioral Manifestations
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Signs and Symptoms processed this record on September 20, 2017