With the TMR-TRAUMA study Hein van Marle aims to open up sleep as a potential treatment window in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The TMR-TRAUMA study (Targeted Memory Reactivation to augment TRAUMA treatment during sleep) specifically aims to translate basic research findings on memory augmentation during sleep to the patient-level in an attempt to increase therapeutic effectiveness of existing treatments. Sleep is crucial in the treatment of traumatic memories. During exposure-based treatment, traumatic memories get reactivated and subsequently re-encoded with lower fear and arousal. This treatment effect is then solidified during memory consolidation while asleep when the ‘neutralized’ memories get integrated in long-term memory networks, stabilizing them and further reducing their affective charge. Recent advances in basic memory research show that memory consolidation can be significantly enhanced by presenting reminder cues (sounds that were linked to the memory at encoding) during subsequent sleep (known as targeted memory reactivation).
The TMR-TRAUMA study will test whether re-administering auditory cues that are already part of an EMDR treatment, again during subsequent sleep will strengthen the (re)consolidation of updated traumatic memory. To visualize the underlying reorganization of the traumatic memory in the brain functional MRI during scripted recall of the traumatic event will be obtained pre/post study. Finally, whole-night polysomnography during TMR will enable analysis of related sleep parameters.