EEG Correlations during WCST Performance in Female Adolescents with Sexual Abuse-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors can present post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alterations in EEG activity and cognition. The aim of this study was to evaluate EEG correlations in female adolescents with CSA-related PTSD during performance of the Wisconsin Card-Sorting Test (WSCT). Inter- and intrahemispheric EEG correlations (INTERr and INTRAr) of those subjects were calculated at rest and during performance of WCST. On this task, the PTSD group obtained higher scores than the control group for the number of correct responses and failure to maintain set. In the between-groups comparisons, the PTSD group presented a higher INTERr between frontal areas in the gamma and slow bands, as well as a higher correlation in the delta band at Fp1-F3; however, this group presented a lower INTRAr between Fp1-P3 and Fp2-P4 in the theta and alpha1 bands. In the comparison between conditions, the PTSD group presented an increased correlation during execution of the WCST, mainly in the gamma band, while the control group showed a decrease of INTRAr in the slow bands. Results are discussed with respect to the influence of CSA- related PTSD on the development of cognition and functional connectivity in the brain.

Share and Cite:

Rizo-Martínez, L. , Sanz-Martin, A. , Guevara, M. , Hernández-González, M. , Inozemtseva, O. and Robles-Aguirre, F. (2015) EEG Correlations during WCST Performance in Female Adolescents with Sexual Abuse-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 5, 239-250. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2015.57025.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Teicher, M.H., Andersen, S.L., Polcari, A., Anderson, C.M., Navalta, C.P. and Kim, D.M. (2003) The Neurobiological Consequences of Early Stress and Childhood Maltreatment. Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews, 27, 33-44.
[2] Bagley, C. (1992) Characteristics of 60 Children and Adolescents with a History of Sexual Assault against Others: Evidence from a Comparative Study. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 3, 299-309.
[3] Paolucci, E.O., Genuis, M.L. and Violato, C. (2001) A Meta-Analysis of the Published Research on the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse. Journal of Psychology, 135, 17-36.
[4] Andersen, S.L., Tomada, A., Vincow, E.S., Valente, E., Polcari, A. and Teicher, M.H. (2008) Preliminary Evidence for Sensitive Periods in the Effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Regional Brain Development. Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neurosciences, 20, 292-301.
[5] Tomoda, A., Suzuki, H., Rabi, K., Sheu, Y.S., Polcari, A. and Teicher, M.H. (2009) Reduced Prefrontal Cortical Gray Matter Volume in Young Adults Exposed to Harsh Corporal Punishment. NeuroImage, 47, T66-T71.
[6] Kitayama, N., Quinn, S. and Bremner, J.D. (2006) Smaller Volume of Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Abuse-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 90, 171-174.
[7] Bremner, J.D., Vythilingam, M., Vermetten, E., Southwick, S.M., McGlashan, T., Nazeer, A., et al. (2003) MRI and Pet Study of Deficits in Hippocampal Structure and Function in Women with Childhood Sexual Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 924-932.
[8] Bremner, J.D., Narayan, M., Staib, L.H., Southwick, S.M., McGlashan, T. and Charney, D.S. (1999) Neural Correlates of Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Women with and without Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 1787-1795.
[9] Alba, A., Marroquin, J.L., Pena, J., Harmony, T. and Gonzalez-Frankenberger, B. (2007) Exploration of Event-Induced EEG Phase Synchronization Patterns in Cognitive Tasks Using a Time-Frequency-Topography Visualization System. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 161, 166-182.
[10] Murias, M., Swanson, J.M. and Srinivasan, R. (2007) Functional Connectivity of Frontal Cortex in Healthy and ADHD Children Reflected in EEG Coherence. Cereb Cortex, 17, 1788-1799.
[11] Shaw, J.C. (1984) Correlation and Coherence Analysis of the EEG: A Selective Tutorial Review. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 1, 255-266.
[12] Ito, Y., Teicher, M.H., Glod, C.A. and Ackerman, E. (1998) Preliminary Evidence for Aberrant Cortical Development in Abused Children: A Quantitative EEG Study. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neurosciences, 10, 298-307.
[13] Miskovic, V., Schmidt, L.A., Georgiades, K., Boyle, M. and Macmillan, H.L. (2010) Adolescent Females Exposed to Child Maltreatment Exhibit Atypical EEG Coherence and Psychiatric Impairment: Linking Early Adversity, the Brain, and Psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 419-432.
[14] Beers, S.R. and De Bellis, M.D. (2002) Neuropsychological Function in Children with Maltreatment-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 483-486.
[15] Freeman, J.B. and Beck, J.G. (2000) Cognitive Interference for Trauma Cues in Sexually Abused Adolescent Girls with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29, 245-256.
[16] Navalta, C.P., Polcari, A., Webster, D.M., Boghossian, A. and Teicher, M.H. (2006) Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Neuropsychological and Cognitive Function in College Women. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neurosciences, 18, 45-53.
[17] Jurado, M.B. and Rosselli, M. (2007) The Elusive Nature of Executive Functions: A Review of Our Current Understanding. Neuropsychology Review, 17, 213-233.
[18] Spann, M.N., Mayes, L.C., Kalmar, J.H., Guiney, J., Womer, F.Y., Pittman, B., et al. (2012) Childhood Abuse and Neglect and Cognitive Flexibility in Adolescents. Child Neuropsychology, 18, 182-189.
[19] Barcelo, F. (2001) Does the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test Measure Prefontral Function? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 4, 79-100.
[20] Demakis, G.J. (2003) A Meta-Analytic Review of the Sensitivity of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test to Frontal and Lateralized Frontal Brain Damage. Neuropsychology, 17, 255-264.
[21] Heaton, S.K., Chelune, G.J., Talley, J.L., Kay, G.G. and Curtiss, G. (1993) Wisconsin Card Sorting Test Manual: Revised and Expanded. Psychological Assessment Resources, Odessa.
[22] Wechsler, D. (2007) Escala Wechsler de Inteligencia para Ninos-IV. Manual Moderno, México.
[23] Kovacs, M. (2004) Inventario de Depresión Infantil (CDI). TEA Ediciones, Espana.
[24] Spielberg, C.D. (1983) Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto.
[25] Bustos, P., Rincón, P. and Aedo, J. (2009) Validación Preliminar de la Escala Infantil de Síntomas del Trastorno de Estrés Postraumático (Child PTSD Symptom Scale, CPSS) en Ninos/as y Adolescentes Víctimas de Violencia Sexual. Psykhe (Santiago), 18, 113-126.
[26] Association, A.P. (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th Edition, American Psychiatric Association, Washington DC.
[27] Guevara, M.A., Ramos, J., Hernández-González, M., Madera, H. and Corsi-Cabrera, M. (2000) Captusen: A System for the Computerized Acquisition of EEG and Event-Related Potentials. Revista Mexicana de Psicología, 171, 77-88.
[28] Guevara, M.A. and Hernández-González, M. (2009) Eegmagic: Programa para analizar senales electroencefalográficas. Revista Mexicana de Ingeniería, 30, 41-53.
[29] Bowden, S.C., Fowler, K.S., Bell, R.C., Whelan, G., Clifford, C.C., Ritter, A.J., et al. (1998) The Reliability and Internal Validity of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 8, 243-254.
[30] Rubinstein, J.S., Meyer, D.E. and Evans, J.E. (2001) Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching. The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27, 763-797.
[31] Nyhus, E. and Barcelo, F. (2009) The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the Cognitive Assessment of Prefrontal Executive Functions: A Critical Update. Brain and Cognition, 71, 437-451.
[32] Barcelo, F. and Knight, R.T. (2002) Both Random and Perseverative Errors Underlie WCST Deficits in Prefrontal Patients. Neuropsychologia, 40, 349-356.
[33] Stuss, D.T., Levine, B., Alexander, M.P., Hong, J., Palumbo, C., Hamer, L., et al. (2000) Wisconsin Card Sorting Test Performance in Patients with Focal Frontal and Posterior Brain Damage: Effects of Lesion Location and Test Structure on Separable Cognitive Processes. Neuropsychologia, 38, 388-402.
[34] Stanford, M.S., Greve, K.W. and Gerstle, J.E. (1997) Neuropsychological Correlates of Self-Reported Impulsive Aggression in a College Sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 23, 961-965.
[35] Coccaro, E.F., McCloskey, M.S., Fitzgerald, D.A. and Phan, K.L. (2007) Amygdala and Orbitofrontal Reactivity to Social Threat in Individuals with Impulsive Aggression. Biological Psychiatry, 62, 168-178.
[36] Hanson, J.L., Chung, M.K., Avants, B.B., Shirtcliff, E.A., Gee, J.C., Davidson, R.J., et al. (2010) Early Stress Is Associated with Alterations in the Orbitofrontal Cortex: A tensor-Based Morphometry Investigation of Brain Structure and Behavioral Risk. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 7466-7472.
[37] De Bellis, M.D., Keshavan, M.S., Clark, D.B., Casey, B.J., Giedd, J.N., Boring, A.M., et al. (1999) Developmental Traumatology. Part II: Brain Development. Biological Psychiatry, 45, 1271-1284.
[38] Teicher, M.H., Dumont, N.L., Ito, Y., Vaituzis, C., Giedd, J.N. and Andersen, S.L. (2004) Childhood Neglect Is Associated with Reduced Corpus Callosum Area. Biological Psychiatry, 56, 80-85.
[39] Teicher, M.H., Ito, Y., Glod, C.A., Andersen, S.L., Dumont, N. and Ackerman, E. (1997) Preliminary Evidence for Abnormal Cortical Development in Physically and Sexually Abused Children Using EEG Coherence and MRI. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 821, 160-175.
[40] Yazgan, M.Y., Wexler, B.E., Kinsbourne, M., Peterson, B. and Leckman, J.F. (1995) Functional Significance of Individual Variations in Callosal Area. Neuropsychologia, 33, 769-779.
[41] Thatcher, R.W., Krause, P.J. and Hrybyk, M. (1986) Cortico-Cortical Associations and EEG Coherence: A Two-Compartmental Model. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 64, 123-143.
[42] Braitenberg, V. (1978) Cortical Architectonics: General and Areal. In: Brazier, B. and Petsche, H., Eds., Architectonics of the Cerebral Cortex, Raven, New York, 443-465.
[43] Eluvathingal, T.J., Chugani, H.T., Behen, M.E., Juhasz, C., Muzik, O., Maqbool, M., et al. (2006) Abnormal Brain Connectivity in Children after Early Severe Socioemotional Deprivation: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study. Pediatrics, 117, 2093-2100.
[44] Choi, J., Jeong, B., Rohan, M.L., Polcari, A.M. and Teicher, M.H. (2009) Preliminary Evidence for White Matter Tract Abnormalities in Young Adults Exposed to Parental Verbal Abuse. Biological Psychiatry, 65, 227-234.
[45] Wang, L., Dai, Z., Peng, H., Tan, L., Ding, Y., He, Z., et al. (2014) Overlapping and Segregated Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder with and without Childhood Neglect. Human Brain Mapping, 35, 1154-1166.
[46] Carrillo-de-la-Pena, M.T. and Garcia-Larrea, L. (2007) Right Frontal Event Related EEG Coherence (ERCoh) Differentiates Good from Bad Performers of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). Neurophysiologie Clinique/Clinical Neurophysiology, 37, 63-75.
[47] Hyvarinen, J. (1982) The Parietal Cortex of Monkey and Man. Springer-Verlag, New York.
[48] Harmony, T., Fernandez, T., Silva, J., Bernal, J., Diaz-Comas, L., Reyes, A., et al. (1996) EEG Delta Activity: An Indicator of Attention to Internal Processing during Performance of Mental Tasks. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 24, 161-171.
[49] Anokhin, A.P., Lutzenberger, W. and Birbaumer, N. (1999) Spatiotemporal Organization of Brain Dynamics and Intelligence: An EEG Study in Adolescents. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 33, 259-273.
[50] Mizuhara, H. and Yamaguchi, Y. (2007) Human Cortical Circuits for Central Executive Function Emerge by Theta Phase Synchronization. Neuroimage, 36, 232-244.
[51] Basar, E., Basar-Eroglu, C., Karakas, S. and Schurmann, M. (2001) Gamma, Alpha, Delta, and Theta Oscillations Govern Cognitive Processes. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 39, 241-248.
[52] Ramos, J., Corsi-Cabrera, M., Guevara, M.A. and Arce, C. (1993) EEG Activity during Cognitive Performance in Women. International Journal of Neuroscience, 69, 185-195.
[53] Roelfsema, P.R., Engel, A.K., Konig, P. and Singer, W. (1997) Visuomotor Integration Is Associated with Zero Time-Lag Synchronization among Cortical Areas. Nature, 385, 157-161.
[54] Gray, C.M., Konig, P., Engel, A.K. and Singer, W. (1989) Oscillatory Responses in Cat Visual Cortex Exhibit Inter-Columnar Synchronization Which Reflects Global Stimulus Properties. Nature, 338, 334-337.
[55] Tiitinen, H., Sinkkonen, J., Reinikainen, K., Alho, K., Lavikainen, J. and Naatanen, R. (1993) Selective Attention Enhances the Auditory 40-hz Transient Response In Humans. Nature, 364, 59-60.
[56] Strüber, D., Basar-Eroglu, C., Hoff, E. and Stadler, M. (2000) Reversal-Rate Dependent Differences in the EEG Gamma-Band during Multistable Visual Perception. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 38, 243-252.
[57] Keil, A., Muller, M.M., Ray, W.J., Gruber, T. and Elbert, T. (1999) Human Gamma Band Activity and Perception of a Gestalt. The Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 7152-7161.
[58] Rodriguez, E., George, N., Lachaux, J.P., Martinerie, J., Renault, B. and Varela, F.J. (1999) Perception’s Shadow: Long-Distance Synchronization of Human Brain Activity. Nature, 397, 430-433.
[59] Miltner, W.H., Braun, C., Arnold, M., Witte, H. and Taub, E. (1999) Coherence of Gamma-Band EEG Activity as a Basis for Associative Learning. Nature, 397, 434-436.
[60] Sheer, D. (1984) Focused Arousal 40-hz EEG and Dysfunction. In: Ebert, T., Ed., Self Regulation of the Brain and Behavior, Springer, Berlin, 64-84.
[61] Uhlhaas, P.J., Roux, F., Rodriguez, E., Rotarska-Jagiela, A. and Singer, W. (2010) Neural Synchrony and the Development of Cortical Networks. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14, 72-80.
[62] Benasich, A.A., Gou, Z., Choudhury, N. and Harris, K.D. (2008) Early Cognitive and Language Skills Are Linked to Resting Frontal Gamma Power across the First 3 Years. Behavioural Brain Research, 195, 215-222.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.