Trauma memory characteristics and neurocognitive performance in trauma exposed youth

Reed, Joanna (2022) Trauma memory characteristics and neurocognitive performance in trauma exposed youth. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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For a substantial minority of young people, exposure to a traumatic event may subsequently result in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cognitive models of PTSD propose that trauma memory characteristics including disorganisation, greater sensory content, and temporal disruption, are relevant to the aetiology of the disorder. Research pertaining to trauma memory characteristics in youth populations had produced mixed findings. Research suggests that PTSD in youth may be accompanied by difficulties in neurocognitive functioning, which could plausibly affect memory function. Neurocognitive functioning has predominantly been investigated in multiply traumatised youth populations and understanding in relation to single-event trauma is limited.

This portfolio presents a systematic review and meta-analysis investigating strength of the relationship between trauma memory characteristics, as measured by a standardised trauma memory questionnaire, and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in youth. Following this, an empirical paper presents analysis of pre-existing pre- and post-treatment data on self-report and narrative trauma memory, and neurocognitive functioning, from a study investigating single-event trauma in youth.

The meta-analysis demonstrated a large estimated effect size for the relationship between trauma memory characteristics and PTSS in youth. The empirical study indicated that pre-treatment trauma memories were more sensory-laden, temporally disrupted, and difficult to verbally access, but not disorganised. Post-treatment results demonstrated decreased self-reported sensory content alongside increased verbal accessibility and narrative coherence. Clearer results were observed for self-report data than narrative data. Neurocognitive functioning was found to be preserved in trauma exposed youth.

The results suggest that trauma memory characteristics are relevant to the aetiology of PTSD in youth and that these are more likely to be underpinned by cognitive factors than neurocognitive factors. Further research clarifying the interaction between trauma memory characteristics and other core cognitive factors in youth PTSD could further advance understanding of the disorder and refinement of psychological treatments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2022 09:26
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2022 09:26


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