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Do cognitive behavioural therapy skills classes increase a resiliency-related brain connectivity pattern to posttraumatic stress disorder?

Keywords: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Title of Research

Do cognitive behavioural therapy skills classes increase a resiliency-related brain connectivity pattern to posttraumatic stress disorder?


Research has shown that public safety personnel (PSP) develop job-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat PTSD, and recent studies have shown it may be effective at preventing the condition. However, the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms of PTSD are not well understood. Current research indicates that there are three different brain patterns of brain connectivity associated with PTSD (central executive network, salience network, and default mode network).

In the current study, participants go through a five-session class focused on teaching introductory CBT skills and mindfulness training (CBTm). Brain images are taken of the participants before training and after they have concluded training. The team then assesses if there has been any strengthening or weakening of the brain connectively associated with PTSD. They will also evaluate if there is a new brain connectivity pattern that is linked to CBTm-related resilience building.

This study is, to the team’s knowledge, the first to attempt a demonstration of the neurophysiological foundation of a proposed, preventative psychological intervention for PTSD. If a pattern is found, the imaging method could be used to test other forms of psychological or pharmacological interventions that aim to build resilience to PTSD. A biomarker, visible through imagining, would allow for an objective measure of the effectiveness of future experimental interventions.

For more information about the study, you can explore the clinical trial page  or view this feature done by CTV News (

When to expect results

Data gathering is expected to be completed by summer 2020. Depending on the speed of analysis, results will be published at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

Research team

Dr. Ji Hyun Ko (Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science at the University of Manitoba) is the lead on the brain imaging component of the study. Dr. Ko has a history of conducting brain imagining studies involving a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Natalie Mota (Department of Clinical Health at the University of Manitoba) is the lead for the clinical component of the study. Dr. Mota has an extensive research background and expertise in CBTm and PTSD.

Dr. Jitender Sareen (Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Manitoba) is the developer of the CBTm classes and an internationally-recognized expert in the field of traumatic stress. He is leading the parent clinical trial on CBTm from which participants for this research study are recruited.

Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton– Scientific Director of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment, provides clinical and methodological consultation on the study.

Jacquelyne Wong– MA, research assistant who coordinates the parent clinical trial.

Data will also be analyzed, assessed and coordinated by a team of research assistants- Ms. Eun Hyung, Dr. Manzuma Khanam, Ms. Jordana Sommer, and Ms. Alanna Single.


Final Results

Rapport final sur l’application des connaissances

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