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Intrusive reexperiencing in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked to perceptual priming for trauma-related material. A prospective longitudinal study (N = 69) investigated perceptual priming for trauma-related, general threat, and neutral words in assault survivors with and without PTSD, using a new version of the word-stem completion task. Survivors with PTSD showed enhanced priming for trauma-related words. Furthermore, priming for trauma-related words measured soon after the trauma was associated with subsequent PTSD severity at 3, 6, and 9 months. The enhanced priming effect was specific to trauma-related words. Enhanced perceptual priming for traumatic material appears to be one of the cognitive processes operating in PTSD.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





103 - 112


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Arousal, Attention, Cues, Emotions, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Mental Recall, Middle Aged, Paired-Associate Learning, Semantics, Set (Psychology), Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Survivors, Violence