The brain mechanisms that underlie PTSD are not yet understood. Fear condition and extinction models have been originally proposed, and broadly accepted as candidate mechanisms for PTSD development, however more recently the limitations of these models gained increasing attention. We had proposed that deficits in the processing of contextual information are at the core of PTSD pathophysiology, involving complex interplay between fear learning, memory, sleep, arousal regulation and stress responses in PTSD. We conducted functional neuroimaging studies in PTSD subjects as well as translational studies in animal model of PTSD, to identify brain regions, as well as physiological and molecular mechanisms involved in contextual processing deficits. Here we explored the converging evidence of abnormalities in hippocampal-prefrontal-thalamic circuits in PTSD patients and animal models, further dissecting candidate molecular mechanisms involved. Together these studies transform our understanding of PTSD pathophysiology suggesting a more complex and nuanced model of pathophysiologic processes involved, understanding that can lead to novel and improved future treatments.
Israel Liberzon, MD
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience and Director of the Psychiatric Residency Research Track in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan
Israel Liberzon, MD, is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience and Director of the Psychiatric Residency Research Track in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. After graduating from Sacklers Medical School, Tel Aviv University, Dr. Liberzon completed his post-doctoral training in physiology at Rappaport Institute, Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa. He completed his Psychiatry Residence Program at the University of Michigan, and, since 1992, has been faculty in the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience program.
Dr. Liberzon’s primary research interest centers on emotions, stress, and stress-related disorders like PTSD, particularly in the regulation and dysregulation of stress response systems. In 1992, he established the PTSD program at the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA Medical Center, a program that has since grown and remains on the forefront of biological research of PTSD worldwide. He also co-founded the Trauma, Stress, and Anxiety Research Group (TSARG) at the University of Michigan, which includes the Psychiatric Affective Neuroimaging Laboratory, a basic science (wet bench) laboratory, a MiRRR genetic repository, and a clinical research group.
He has published over 200 peer reviewed manuscripts, many of them in the leading journals like Nature Reviews Neuroscience, PNAS, Neuron, JAMA Psychiatry, Journal of Neuroscience, NEJM and more, and has authored and edited several book chapters and reviews including the upcoming book: The Neurobiology of PTSD. He serves on NIH and VA study sections, served as a reviewer for Institute of Medicine, and Department of Defense Congressional reports as well as various international funding agencies