Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9307-7706

Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/School/Program

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas G. Adams

Abstract

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is associated with mild-to-moderate deficits in neurocognitive functioning. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, namely, the Met allele, may also be associated with mild deficits in neurocognitive functioning. However, findings are inconsistent and may be sensitive to environmental epigenetic moderators such as psychopathology.

The current study analyzed data from European-American U.S. military veterans (n = 1,244) who participated in the 2011 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study (NHRVS). Multivariate analyses of covariances were conducted to evaluate the unique and interactive effects of the Met allele and probable PTSD on objective and subjective neurocognitive functioning.

Significant (p ≤ .001) interactions between Met allele carrier status and probable PTSD were observed in objective (ηp2 = .028) and subjective neurocognitive functioning (ηp2 = .029). In individuals without PTSD (n = 1113), the Met allele was not significantly associated with objective neurocognitive functioning (p = .01, ηp2 = .013) or subjective neurocognitive functioning (p = .17, ηp2 = .009). In individuals with PTSD (n = 131), the Met allele was significantly (p < .01) associated with poorer objective (ηp2 = .179) and subjective neurocognitive functioning (ηp2 = .237).

These findings suggest that associations between the Met allele and neurocognitive functioning are dependent on the presence of PTSD.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2021.407

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