The Neural Correlates of Memory for a Life-Threatening Event Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • We investigated the neural correlates of remote traumatic reexperiencing in survivors of a life-threatening incident: the near crash of Air Transat (AT) Flight 236. Survivors’ brain activity was monitored during video-cued recollection of the AT disaster, September 11, 2001 (9/11), and a comparatively nonemotional (neutral) event. Passengers showed a robust memory enhancement effect for the AT incident relative to the 9/11 and neutral events. This traumatic memory enhancement was associated with activation in the amygdala, medial temporal lobe, anterior and posterior midline, and visual cortex in passengers. This brain–behavior relationship also held in relation to 9/11, which had elevated significance for passengers given its temporal proximity to the AT disaster. This pattern was not observed in a comparison group of nontraumatized individuals who were also scanned. These findings suggest that remote traumatic memory is mediated by amygdalar activity, which likely enhances vividness via influences on hippocampal and ventral visual systems.


  • Palombo, Daniela J
  • McKinnon, Margaret
  • McIntosh, Anthony R
  • Anderson, Adam K
  • Todd, Rebecca M
  • Levine, Brian

publication date

  • March 2016