Saskia Koch

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During threatening and stressful situations, lack of control over automatic freeze-fight-flight (FFF) tendencies may not only affect split-second decisions during threat, but may also contribute to increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the exact (neurobiological) mechanisms underlying automatic FFF-tendencies, split-second decisions during threat and PTSD symptom development remain largely unknown. The central aim of the ‘Police-in-Action’ project during my post-doc is therefore to investigate the role of FFF-reactions in the development of anxiety and aggression symptoms. In a longitudinal study design, we will investigate whether neuroendocrine FFF-markers, as measured with functional neuroimaging, hormonal assessment, physiology and behavioral paradigms, may predict the development of PTSD symptoms in police recruits after their first emergency aid experience.
During my PhD project, I investigated the effects of a single oxytocin administration on fear neurocircuitry in male and female police officers with and without PTSD. More specifically, I investigated the effects of oxytocin administration on amygdala reactivity towards emotional faces, as well as amygdala subregion functional connectivity during rest.

 

Selected publications:

Koch, S.B.J., van Zuiden, M., Nawijn, L., Frijling, J.L. Veltman, D.J. & Olff, M. (2014). Intranasal oxytocin as strategy for medication-enhanced psychotherapy of PTSD: Salience processing and fear inhibition processes. Psychoneuroendocrinology: 40: 242-256

Koch, S.B.J., van Zuiden, M., Nawijn, L., Frijling, J.L. Veltman, D.J. & Olff, M. (in press). Intranasal oxytocin administration dampens amygdala reactivity towards emotional faces in male and female PTSD patients. Neuropsychopharmacology.

Koch, S.B.J., van Zuiden, M., Nawijn, L., Frijling, J.L. Veltman, D.J. & Olff, M. (in press). Intranasal oxytocin normalizes amygdala functional connectivity in post-traumatic stress disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology.