Trauma Research

HRI has recruited Dr. Margaret McKinnon as Homewood Research Chair in Mental Health and Trauma to provide leadership in building a clinical research and knowledge translation program in trauma at Homewood.  Dr. McKinnon will play a key role in building the national network – known as the Homewood-McMaster Trauma Research Network – and will lead the development of a Trauma Research Program at HRI. Dr. McKinnon, is working collaboratively with Homewood clinicians and HRI staff,  colleagues, Drs. Ruth Lanius, Daniela Rabellino, Andrew Nicholson and students Jenna Boyd, Chantelle Lloyd, Alina Protopopescu and Aamna Qureshi.

Research in Progress



1. Evaluating PTSD Treatment Response and Predictors of Symptom Severity

Margaret McKinnon (P.I.), Jenna Boyd, Alina Protopopescu, Ruth Lanius.

People with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience social impairment, high absenteeism, unemployment and work-related disability. Research led by the Homewood Research Institute (HRI) and McMaster University are investigating the clinical symptoms that predict PTSD symptom severity and treatment response. Working with the Post-Traumatic Stress Recovery unit at Homewood Health Centre, researchers at HRI and McMaster University aim to understand how types of trauma (e.g., childhood, combat, workplace) and trauma symptoms (e.g., depression, anger, guilt) affect how well people respond to treatment.
2. Moral Injury and Brain Activation

Ruth Lanius (P.I.), Chantelle, Lloyd, Charlene O’Connor, Margaret McKinnon.

A “moral injury” occurs when a person has to witness, fails to prevent, or engages in an event that violates their moral or ethical beliefs. For example, members of the military may encounter situations that conflict with their own deeply held beliefs around what is and what is not moral or ethical behavior. Often these transgressions result in feelings of guilt, shame, and/or betrayal. Exposure to morally injurious situations along with any feelings of guilt or shame have been linked to negative mental outcomes, including PTSD. Currently, we have a very limited understanding of how the brain and body respond to moral injury.

Research led by Western University is trying to understand how the brain processes morally injurious events through the use of neuroimaging (fMRI). The researchers are working with the Post Traumatic Stress Recovery unit at Homewood Heath Centre to recruit participants for this study.

3. Cognitive Training to Improve Symptoms of PTSD

Margaret McKinnon (P.I.), Jenna Boyd, Alina Protopopescu, Charlene O’Connor.

People diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often experience changes in cognitive functioning, such as difficulty with memory, attention, concentration, planning and organization. Research led by Homewood Research Institute (HRI) and McMaster University is examining the use of Goal Management Training® (GMT), an established cognitive skills training program, as a method for reducing symptoms of PTSD, particularly among veterans, military members and first responders. Already trialed with inpatients in the Homewood Health Centre’s Post-Traumatic Stress Recovery Unit, GMT is now being trialed with community members in Southern Ontario. Initial results suggest that GMT holds great promise for improving quality of life and cognitive function for individuals with PTSD

This work is generously supported by the Cowan Foundation, the Military Casualty Support Foundation, Schlegel Healthcare and the Bickell Foundation.


+ research funded by HRI
* research conducted at Homewood Health
Underlined Research Trainees


Abnormal self-schema in semantic memory in major depressive disorder: Evidence from event-related brain potentials
Kiang, M. · Farzan, F. ·  Blumberger, D.F. · Kutas, M. ·  McKinnon, M.C. ·  Kansal, V. ·  Rajji, T.K. ·  Daskalakis, Z.J.

Desynchronization of autonomic response and central autonomic network connectivity in posttraumatic stress disorder
Thome, J. · Densmore, M. · Frewen, P.A. · McKinnon, M.C. · Théberge, J. · Nicholson, A.A.

Dissociative symptoms mediate the relation between PTSD symptoms and functional impairment in a sample of military members, veterans, and first responders with PTSD  (in press)*
Boyd, J.E. · Protopopescu, A. · O’Connor, C. · Neufeld, R.J.W. · Jetley, R. · Hood, H.K. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

Dynamic casual modeling in PTSD and its dissociative subtype: Bottom-up versus top-down processing within fear and emotion regulation circuitry 
Nicholson, A.A. · Friston, K.J. · Zeidman, P. · Harricharan, S. · McKinnon, M.C. · Densmore, M. · Neufeld, R.W.J. · Theberge, J. · Corrigan, F. · Jetley, R. · Spiegel, D. · Lanius, R.A.

Methylene blue treatment for residual symptoms of bipolar disorder: Randomised crossover study
Alda, M. · McKinnon, M.C. · Blagdon, R. · Garnham, J. · MacLellan, S. · O’Donovan, C. · Hajek, T. · Nair, C. · Dursun, S. · Macqueen, G.

Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence +
Boyd, J.E. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

Neural and behavioural correlates of autobiographical memory retrieval in patients with major depressive disorder and a history of trauma exposure+
Parlar, M. · Densmore, M. · Hall, G. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C. 

Neural correlates of heart rate variability in PTSD during sub- and supraliminal processing of trauma-related cues+
Rabellino, D.
  ·  D’Andrea, W.  · Siegle, G. ·  Frewen, P.A.  ·  Minshew, R.  ·  Densmore, M.  ·  Neufeld, R.J.  ·  Théberge, J. ·  McKinnon, M.C. ·  Lanius, R.A.

Neuroimaging the traumatized self: fMRI reveals altered response in cortical midline structures and occipital cortex during visual and verbal self- and other-referential processing in women with PTSD+
Frewen, P.A. ·
Thornley, E. · Rabellino, D. · Lanius, R.A.

Neuroimaging the traumatized self: Neaural correlates of self- and other -referential processing in women with childhood trauma-related PTSD
Frewen, P.A. ·
Thornley, E. · Rabellino, D. · Lanius, R.A.

Plastic Modulation of Intrinsic Neural Networks in PTSD through Amygdala Downregulation via Real-Time fMRI Neurofeedback
Lanius, R.A. · Nicholson, A.A. · Rabellino, D. · Densmore, M. · Frewen, P.A. · Parent, C. · Kluetsch, R.C. · Schmahl, C. · Theberge, J. · Neufeld, R.J. · McKinnon, M.C. · Reiss, J. · Rakesh, J.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in: Psychiatry in Primary Care: A Concise Canadian Pocket Guide (Second Edition)
Schiavone, F.L. · Lanius, R.A. 

Relation between patterns of intrinsic network connectivity, cognitive functioning, and symptom presentation in trauma-exposed patients with major depressive disorder +
Parlar, M. · Densmore, M. · Hall, G.B. · Frewen, P.A. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

Resting-state functional connectivity of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in post-traumatic stress disorder and its dissociative subtype+
Rabellino, D.
 · Densmore, M. · Harricharan, S. · Theberge, J. · McKinnon, M.C. · Lanius, R.A.

Resting State Functional Connectivity of the Innate Alarm System in PTSD
Harricharan, S. · Rabellino, D. · Frewen, P.A. · Densmore, M. · Theberge, J. · Schore, A.N. · Lanius, R.A.

Sensory overload and imbalance: Resting-state vestibular connectivity in PTSD and its dissociative subtype
Harricharan, S. · Nicholson, A.A. · Densmore, M. · Theberge, J. · McKinnon, M.C. · Neufeld, R.W.J. · Lanius, R.A.

Six-year follow-up of the treatment of patients with dissociative disorders study
Myrick, A.C. · Webermann, A.R. · Loewenstein, R.J. · Lanius, R.A. · Putnam, F.W. · Brand, B.L.

Smaller hippocampal volume in posttraumtic stress disorder: A multi-site ENIGMA-PGC study
Logue, M.W. · van Rooij, S.J.H. · Dennis, E.L. · Davis, S.L. · Hayes, J.P. · Stevens, J. S. · Densmore, M. · Haswell, C.C. · Ipser, J. · Koch, S.B. · Korgaonkar, M. · Lebois, L.A.M. · Peverill, M. · Baker, J.T. · Boedhoe, P.S.M. · Frijling, J.L. · Gruber, S.A. · Harpaz-Rotem, I. · Jahanshad, N. · Koopowitz, S. · Levy, I. · Nawijn, L. · O’Connor, L · Olff, M. · Salat, D.H. · Sheridan, M.A. · Speilberg, J.M. · van Zuiden, M. · Winternitz, S.R. · Wolff, J.D. · Wolf, E.J. · Wang, X. · Wrocklage, K. · Abdallah, C.G. · Bryant, R.A. · Geuze, E. · Jovanovic, T. · Kaufman, M. · King, Ap. · Krystal, J.H. · Lagopoulos, J. · Lanius, R.A. · Liberzon, I. · McGlinchey, R.E. · McLaughlin, K.A. · Milberg, W.P. · Miller, M.W. · Ressler, K.J. · Stein, D.J. · Thomaes, K. · Thompson, P.M. · Morey, R.A.

Superior colliculus connectivity in post-traumatic stress disorder and its dissociative subtype
Olive, I. · Densmore, M. · Harricharan, S. · Theberge, J. · McKinnon, M.C. · Lanius, R.A.

The impact of obesity on neuropsychological functioning in adults with and without major depressive disorder
Restivo, M. · McKinnon, M.C. · Frey, B.N. · Hall, G. · Syed, W. · Taylor, V.

The innate alarm system in PTSD: conscious and subconscious processing of threat+
Lanius, R.A. ·
Rabellino, D. · Boyd, J.E. ·  Harricharan, S. · Frewen, P.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

The neurobiology of emotion regulation in posttraumatic stress disorder: Amygdala downregulation via real-time fMRI neurofeedback
Nicholson, A.A. · Rabellino, D. · Densmore, M. · Frewen, P.A. · Paret, C. · Kluetsch, R. · Schmahl, C. · Theberge, J. · Neufeld, R. · Mckinnon, M.C. · Reiss, J. · Jetley, R. · Lanius, R.

The neurobiology of PTSD
Lanius, R.A. · Olff, M.


Aberrant Functional Connectivity of the Amygdala Complexes in PTSD during Conscious and Subconscious Processing of Trauma-Related Stimuli
Rabellino, D. · Densmore, M. · Frewen, P.A. · Theberge, J. · McKinnon, M.C. · Lanius, R.A.

Alpha oscillation neurofeedback modulates amygdala complex connectivity and arousal in posttraumatic stress disorder
Nicholson, A.A. · Ros, T. · Frewen, P.A. · Densmore, M. · Theberge, J. · Kluetsch, R.C. · Lanius, R.A.

A Recovery-Oriented Care Approach: Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Newly-Built Mental Health Facility. 
Ahern, C. • Bieling, P. • McKinnon, MC. • Langstaff, K. • McNeely, H.

A review of the relation between dissociation, memory, executive functioning and social cognition in military members and civilians with neuropsychiatric conditions+
McKinnon, M.C. ·
Boyd, J.E. · Frewen, P.A. · Lanius, U.F. · Jetly, R. · Richardson, J.D. · Lanius, R.A.

Dissociative symptoms are associated with reduced neuropsychological performance in patients with recurrent depression and a history of trauma exposure+
Parlar, M. · Frewen, P.A. · Oremus, C. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

Effect of obesity on cognition in adults with and without mood disorder: study design and methods
Restivo, M.R. • McKinnon, M.C. • Frey, B.N. • Hall, G.B • Taylor, V.H.

Evidence-based design features improve sleep quality among psychiatric inpatients
Pyrke, R.  · McKinnon, M.C. · McNeely, H. · Ahern, C. · Langstaff, K • Bieling, P.

fMRI functional connectivity of the periaqueductal gray in PTSD and its dissociative subtype
Harricharan, S. · Rabellino, D. · Frewen, P. A. · Densmore, M. · Theberge, J · McKinnon, M.C. · Shore, A.N. · Lanius, R.A.

Gender differences in perceived causal relations between trauma-related symptoms and eating disorders in online community and inpatient samples
Thornley, E. • Vorstenbosch, V. • Frewen, P.A.

“I can’t tell whether it’s my hand”: a pilot study of the neurophenomenology of body representation during the rubber hand illusion in trauma-related disorders
Rabellino, D. · Harricharan, S. · Frewen, P.A. · Burin, D. · McKinnon, M.C. · Lanius, R.A.

Moral reasoning in women with post-traumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse+
Nazarov A. · Walaszczyk, V. · Frewen, P.A. · Oremus, C. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

Overcoming the challenges inherent in conducting design research in mental health settings: Lessons from St. Joseph’s healthcare, Hamilton’s pre and post-occupancy evaluation
Ahern, C. · McKinnon, M.C. · Bieling, P.J. · McNeely, H. · Langstaff, K.

Parental bonding and neuropsychological performance are associated with episodic simulation of future events in trauma-exposed patients with major depressive disorder+
Parlar, M. · Lee, A. · Haggee, Z. · Rhooms, L. · Lanius, R.A. · McKinnon, M.C.

The innate alarm circuit in post-traumatic stress disorder: Conscious and subconscious processing of fear- and trauma-related cues
Rabellino, D. · Densmore, M. · Frewen, P.A. · Theberge, J. · Lanius, R.A. 

Unique insula subregion resting-state functional connectivity with amygdala complexes in posttraumatic stress disorder and its dissociative subtype
Nicholson, A.A. • Sapru, I. • Densmore, M. • Frewen, P.A. • Neufeld, R.W. • Thebérge, J. • McKinnon, M.C. • Lanius, R.A.


Comprehension of affective prosody in women with post-traumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse+
Nazarov, A. • Frewen, P.A. • Oremus, C. • Schellenberg, E.G. • McKinnon, M.C.Lanius, R.A.

Dissociation in borderline personality disorder: Disturbed cognitive and emotional inhibition and its neural correlates
Winter, D. • Krause-Utz, A. • Lis, S. • Chiu-De, C. • Lanius, R.A. • Schriner, F. • Bohus, M. • Schmahl, C.

Distinct intrinsic network connectivity patterns of post-traumatic stress disorder symptom clusters
Tursich, M. • Ros, T. • Frewen, P.A. • Kluetsch, R.C. • Calhoun, V. D. • Lanius, R.A.

Effect of direct eye contact in women with PTSD related to interpersonal trauma: Psychophysiological interaction analysis of connectivity of an innate alarm system
Steuwe, C. • Daniels, J.K. • Frewen, P.A. • Densmore, M. • Théberge, J. • Lanius, R.A.

Effects of electroconvulsive therapy on cognitive functioning in patients with depression: Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis+
Oremus, C. • Oremus, M. • McNeely, H. • Losier, B. • Parlar, M. • King, M. • Hasey, G. • Fervaha, G. • Graham, A.C. • Gregory, C. • Hanford, L. • Nazarov, A. • Restivo, M. • Tatham, E. • Truong, W. • Hall, G.B. • Lanius, R.A.McKinnon, M.C.

Emotional memory in pregnant women at risk for postpartum depression
Williams, M.E. • Becker, S. • McKinnon, M.C. • Wong, Q. • Cudney, L.E. • Steiner M. • Frey, B.N.

Geriatric borderline personality disorder in the era of DSM-5 and ICD-11
Meusel, L.M • McKinnon, M.C. • Bieling, P.

Intrinsic connectivity networks in post-traumatic stress disorder during sub- and supraliminal processing of threat-related stimuli
Rabellino, D. • Tursich, M. • Frewen, P.A. • Daniels, J.K. • Densmore, M. • Théberge, J. • Lanius, R.A.

Latent profile analysis and principal axis factoring of the DSM-5 dissociative subtype
Frewen, P.A. • Brown, M.F. • Steuwe, C. • Lanius, R.A.

Restoring large-scale brain networks in PTSD and related disorders: A proposal for neuroscientifically-informed treatment interventions
Lanius, R.A.Frewen, P.A. • Tursich, M. • Jetly, R. • McKinnon, M.C.

Role of morality in the experience of guilt and shame within the armed forces+
Nazarov, A.• Jetly, R. • McNeely, H. • Kiang, M. • Lanius, R.A.McKinnon, M.C.

Structural brain aberrations associated with the dissociative subtype of post-traumatic stress disorder
Daniels, J.K. • Frewen, P.A. • Théberge, J. • Lanius, R.A.

The dissociative subtype of posttraumatic stress disorder: Unique resting-state functional connectivity of basolateral and centromedial amygdala complexes
Nicholson, A.A. • Densmore, M. • Frewen, P.A. • Théberge, J. • Neufeld, R.W. • McKinnon, M.C.Lanius, R.A.

The innate alarm circuit in post-traumatic stress disorder: Conscious and subconscious processing of fear- and trauma-related cues
Rabellino, D. • Densmore, M. • Frewen, P.A. • Thebérge, J. • Lanius, R.A.

The neural correlates of memory for a life-threatening event: An fMRI study of passengers from flight AT236
Palombo, D.J. • McKinnon, M.C. • McIntosh, A.R. • Anderson, A.K. • Todd, R.M. • Levine, B.

The relationship between insight and autobiographical memory for emotional events in schizophrenia
MacDougall, A.G. • McKinnon, M.C. • Herdman, K.A. • King, M.J. • Kiang, M.

The relation between morality and mental health in the North American military forces
Nazarov, A.• McNeely, H. • Kiang, M. • Lanius, R.A. • McKinnon, M.C.

Threat of death and autobiographical memory: A study of passengers from flight AT236
McKinnon, M.C. • Palombo, D.J. • Nazarov, A.• Kumar, N. • Khuu, W. • Levine, B.

Trauma and PTSD: setting the research agenda
Olff, M. • Armour, C. • Brewin, C. • Cloitre, M. • Ford, J.D. • Herlihy, J. • Lanius, R.A. • Rosner, R. • Schmidt, U. • Turner, S.

Trauma-related altered states of consciousness (TRASC) and functional impairment I: Prospective study in acutely traumatized persons
Frewen, P.A. • Hegadoren, K. • Coupland, N. • Rowe, B. • Neufeld, R. • Lanius, R.A.

Trauma-related dissociation and altered states of consciousness: A call for clinical, treatment, and neuroscience research
Lanius, R.A.

Treatment of complex dissociative disorders: A comparison of interventions reported by community therapists versus those recommended by experts
Myrick, A.C. • Chasson, G.S. • Lanius, R.A. • Leventhal, B. • Brand, B.L.


A social-cognitive-neuroscience approach to PTSD: Clinical and research perspectives
Lanius, R.A.Frewen, P.A. • Nazarov, A. • McKinnon, M.C.

A systematic review of the reporting of sample size calculations and corresponding data components in observational functional magnetic resonance imaging studies
Guo, Q. • Thabane, L. • Hall, G. • McKinnon, M.C. • Goeree, R. • Pullenayegum, E.

Alterations in empathic responding among women with posttraumatic stress disorder associated with childhood trauma+
Parlar, M. • Frewen, P.A. • Nazarov, A. • Oremus, C. • MacQueen, G. • Lanius, R.A.McKinnon, M.C.

Altered connectivity within the salience network during direct eye gaze in PTSD
Thome, J. • Frewen, P.A. • Daniels, J.K. • Densmore, M. • Lanius, R.A.

Association of trauma exposure with proinflammatory activity: A transdiagnostic meta-analysis
Tursich, M.• Neufeld, R.W. • Frewen, P.A. • Harricharan, S • Kibler, J.L. • Rhind, S.G. • Lanius, R.A.

Chronic complex dissociative disorders and borderline personality disorder: Disorders of emotion dysregulation?
Brand, B.L. • Lanius, R.A.

Effect of direct eye contact in PTSD related to interpersonal trauma: An fMRI study of activation of an innate alarm system
Steuwe, C. • Daniels, J.K. • Frewen, P.A. • Densmore, M. • Pannasch, S. • Beblo, T. • Reiss, J. • Lanius, R.A.

Plastic modulation of PTSD resting-state networks and subjective wellbeing by EEG neurofeedback
Kluetsch, R.C. • Ros, T. • Théberge, J. • Frewen, P.A. • Calhoun, V.D. • Schmahl, C. • Jetly, R. • Lanius, R.A.

Resting-state neuroimaging studies: A new way of identifying differences and similarities among the anxiety disorders?
Peterson, A. • Thome, J. • Frewen, P.A.Lanius, R.A.

Test-retest reliability of N400 event-related brain potential measures in a word-pair semantic priming paradigm in patients with schizophrenia
Boyd, J.E. • Patriciu, I. • McKinnon, M.C. • Kiang, M.

Theory of mind performance in women with posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse+
Nazarov, A. • Frewen, P.A. • Parlar, M. • Oremus, C.a • MacQueen, G. • McKinnon, M.C.Lanius, R.A.

The reporting of observational clinical functional magnetic resonance imaging studies: A systematic review
Guo, Q. • Parlar, M. • Truong, W. • Hall, G. • Thabane, L. • McKinnon, M.C. • Goeree, R. • Pullenayegum, E.

Trauma-related altered states of consciousness: Exploring the 4-D model
Frewen, P.A. Lanius, R.A.

Trauma-related altered states of consciousness in women with BPD with or without co-occurring PTSD
Frewen, P.A. • Kleindienst, N. • Lanius, R. • Schmahl, C.

Tuning pathological brain oscillations with neurofeedback: A systems neuroscience framework
Ros, T. • Baars, B.J. • Lanius, R.A. • Vuilleumier, P.