Combining clinical studies and analogue experiments to investigate cognitive mechanisms in posttraumatic stress disorder.
Ehring T., Kleim B., Ehlers A.
Research into cognitive mechanisms in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) typically comprises two types of studies. The first group of studies is conducted with survivors of traumatic events and assesses the association between PTSD and cognitive variables with questionnaires and/or information processing paradigms. In the second group of studies, healthy non-traumatized individuals are exposed to an analogue stressor (e.g., a stressful film) and cognitive variables of interest are usually experimentally manipulated to investigate their effects on analogue PTSD symptoms. This review illustrates how studies of trauma survivors and analogue studies with non-traumatized populations can be usefully combined. Two examples for this approach are presented: (1) research into the role of perceptual priming for trauma-related stimuli and (2) research into trauma-related rumination. The advantages and limitations of both types of studies are discussed and it is argued that a combination of both approaches is needed to investigate cognitive mechanisms in PTSD.