Previous studies have found that PTSD is associated with hippocampal-related impairment in cognitive flexibility. However, little is known about this impairment following nature adventure interventions. The current ex post facto study aimed to examine the relationship between cognitive flexibility, sailing-based intervention and PTSD symptoms. Thirty-nine individuals with PTSD diagnosis (17 who engaged in sailing and 22 who did not engage in sailing) and 38 healthy control (18 who engaged in sailing and 20 who did not engage in sailing) completed a performance-based reversal learning paradigm to assess cognitive flexibility and were evaluated for PTSD, depressive and anxiety symptoms. The results revealed significantly lower levels of PTSD and trait anxiety symptoms in the PTSD-sailing group, compared to the PTSD-no-sailing group. In addition, both PTSD groups showed selective, though different, impairments in reversal learning. Specifically, PTSD-no-sailing individuals showed a selective impairment in reversing the outcome of a negative stimulus- they struggled to learn that a previously negative stimulus was later associated with a positive outcome. PTSD-sailing individuals, on the other hand, displayed a selective impairment in reversing the outcome of a positive stimulus- they had difficulty learning that a previously positive stimulus was later associated with a negative outcome. The results may suggest that although individuals who participated in a sailing-based intervention had lower clinical symptoms, their hippocampal related cognitive flexibility was mot improved, and the impairment exists in a different domain.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was supported by ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION [Grant# 1128/16] awarded to Einat Levy-Gigi.
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- cognitive flexibility
- nature adventure intervention
- reversal learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Behavioral Neuroscience