Cognitive models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) assert that memory processes play a significant role in PTSD (see e.g., Ehlers & Clark, 2000). Intrusive reexperiencing in PTSD has been linked to perceptual processing of trauma-related material with a corresponding hypothesized lack of conceptual processing. In an experimental study that included clinical participants with and without PTSD (N = 50), perceptual priming and conceptual priming for trauma-related, general threat, and neutral words were investigated in a population with chronic trauma-induced complaints as a result of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The study used a new version of the word-stem completion task (Michael, Ehlers, & Halligan, 2005) and a word-cue association task. It also assessed the role of dissociation in threat processing. Further evidence of enhanced perceptual priming in PTSD for trauma stimuli was found, along with evidence of lack of conceptual priming for such stimuli. Furthermore, this pattern of priming for trauma-related words was associated with PTSD severity, and state dissociation and PTSD group made significant contributions to predicting perceptual priming for trauma words. The findings shed light on the importance of state dissociation in trauma-related information processing and posttraumatic symptoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology