The aftermath of 9/11: Effect of intensity and recency of trauma on outcome Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Amygdala
  • Arousal
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Recall
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic


  • Does trauma exposure have a long-term impact on the brain and behavior of healthy individuals? The authors used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the impact of proximity to the disaster of September 11, 2001, on amygdala function in 22 healthy adults. More than three years after the terrorist attacks, bilateral amygdala activity in response to viewing fearful faces compared to calm ones was higher in people who were within 1.5 miles of the World Trade Center on 9/11, relative to those who were living more than 200 miles away (all were living in the New York metropolitan area at time of scan). This activity mediated the relationship between group status and current symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. In turn, the effect of group status on both amygdala activation (fearful vs. calm faces) and current symptoms was statistically explained by time since worst trauma in lifetime and intensity of worst trauma, as indicated by reported symptoms at time of the trauma. These data are consistent with a model of heightened amygdala reactivity following high-intensity trauma exposure, with relatively slow recovery.

publication date

  • May 2007



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC2759706

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/1528-3542.7.2.227

PubMed ID

  • 17516802

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 227

end page

  • 38


  • 7


  • 2