Neurobehavioral moderators of Post-traumatic Disease Trajectories

2014 – 2019 NIH, USA

Goal: Uncover the neurobiology of emerging oath in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).​

Neurobiological processes that take place during the year that follows a traumatic event critically determine who will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and who will not. Among survivors of single traumatic incidents, the chronic disorder frequently follows a failure to recover from early PTSD symptoms.


Longitudinal studies further describe diverging early symptom trajectories of non-remission, rapid remission, and delayed, often incomplete, remission. Other trauma-emerging symptoms follow similar paths.

Symptom trajectories provide an observable dimension of how PTSD develops, or remits. To better understand the underlying neurobiology these trajectories must be linked with pertinent brain alterations, present initially, or developing simultaneously. To date, large scale, prospective longitudinal studies of PTSD symptom trajectories that involve repeated functional and structural neuroimaging assessment, had not been performed.


We propose to prospectively and simultaneously evaluate trauma-emerging symptoms and brain alterations during the year that follows trauma exposure.

PTSD has been linked with altered threat detection and reactivity and with diminished emotional regulation. The proposed study will document the progression of these alterations as trauma survivors either recover or remain ill, leveraging the investigative team‟s combined experience and track record in conducting large prospective studies of nascent PTSD (AYS), prospective fMRI studies of traumatic stress (TH) and in-depth studies of brain functioning in PTSD.


By linking symptom progression with neural changes, knowledge gained in this work will fill a critical gap in understanding the pathogenesis of PTSD. It will additionally identify potentially modifiable neuro-cognitive mediators of symptom trajectories towards designing processes-targeted, stage-specific interventions. By longitudinally exploring brain-based functions of threat detection and emotional regulation this work is a step forward in exploring the nature of traumatic stress responses and its aftermath.

Delineating gray and white matter involvement in brain lesions: 3D alignment of fMRI and DTI.

Key Publications

Spatio-temporal indications of sub-cortical involvement in leftward bias of spatial attention. 

The dark side of the alpha rhythm: fMRI evidence for induced alpha modulation during complete darkness

Distinct iEEG activity patterns in temporal-limbic and prefrontal sites induced by emotional intentionality.

Talma Hendler (MD PhD) is a professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, and the founding director of the Sagol Brain Institute Tel-Aviv. Professor Hendler holds an MD from Tel Aviv University and a PhD from SUNY at Stony Brook, NY. and is a licensed psychiatrist in Israel. 

Prof. Hendler leads the #Neuropsychiatry & Neuromodulation research team and an associated investigator of all the other 6 research teams at the Sagol Brain Institute.