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.
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.