Evaluating the Evidence for Brain-Based Biotypes of Psychiatric Vulnerability in the Acute Aftermath of Trauma

Ziv Ben-Zion*, Tobias R. Spiller, Jackob N. Keynan, Roee Admon, Ifat Levy, Israel Liberzon, Arieh Y. Shalev, Talma Hendler, Ilan Harpaz-Rotem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: The weak link between subjective symptom-based diagnostic methods for posttraumatic psychopathology and objectively measured neurobiological indices forms a barrier to the development of effective personalized treatments. To overcome this problem, recent studies have aimed to stratify psychiatric disorders by identifying consistent subgroups based on objective neural markers. Along these lines, a promising 2021 study by Stevens et al. identified distinct brain-based biotypes associated with different longitudinal patterns of posttraumatic symptoms. Here, the authors conducted a conceptual nonexact replication of that study using a comparable data set from amultimodal longitudinal study of recent trauma survivors. Methods: A total of 130 participants (mean age, 33.61 years, SD511.21; 48% women) admitted to a general hospital emergency department following trauma exposure underwent demographic, clinical, and neuroimaging assessments 1, 6, and 14 months after trauma. All analyses followed the pipeline outlined in the original study and were conducted in collaboration with its authors. Results: Task-based functional MRI conducted 1 month posttrauma was used to identify four clusters of individuals based on profiles of neural activity reflecting threat and reward reactivity. These clusters were not identical to the previously identified brain-based biotypes and were not associated with prospective symptoms of posttraumatic psychopathology. Conclusions: Overall, these findings suggest that the original brain-based biotypes of trauma resilience and psychopathology may not generalize to other populations. Thus, caution is warranted when attempting to define subtypes of psychiatric vulnerability using neural indices before treatment implications can be fully realized. Additional replication studies are needed to identify more stable and generalizable neuroimaging-based biotypes of posttraumatic psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-154
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


FundersFunder number
Yale School of Medicine, and Fulbright U.S.-Israel
National Institute of Mental HealthR01-MH-103287
Yale School of Medicine
Tel Aviv University
Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University


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