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The AURORA Study: a longitudinal, multimodal library of brain biology and function after traumatic stress exposure

A Correction to this article was published on 28 September 2020

This article has been updated


Adverse posttraumatic neuropsychiatric sequelae (APNS) are common among civilian trauma survivors and military veterans. These APNS, as traditionally classified, include posttraumatic stress, postconcussion syndrome, depression, and regional or widespread pain. Traditional classifications have come to hamper scientific progress because they artificially fragment APNS into siloed, syndromic diagnoses unmoored to discrete components of brain functioning and studied in isolation. These limitations in classification and ontology slow the discovery of pathophysiologic mechanisms, biobehavioral markers, risk prediction tools, and preventive/treatment interventions. Progress in overcoming these limitations has been challenging because such progress would require studies that both evaluate a broad spectrum of posttraumatic sequelae (to overcome fragmentation) and also perform in-depth biobehavioral evaluation (to index sequelae to domains of brain function). This article summarizes the methods of the Advancing Understanding of RecOvery afteR traumA (AURORA) Study. AURORA conducts a large-scale (n = 5000 target sample) in-depth assessment of APNS development using a state-of-the-art battery of self-report, neurocognitive, physiologic, digital phenotyping, psychophysical, neuroimaging, and genomic assessments, beginning in the early aftermath of trauma and continuing for 1 year. The goals of AURORA are to achieve improved phenotypes, prediction tools, and understanding of molecular mechanisms to inform the future development and testing of preventive and treatment interventions.

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The investigators wish to thank the trauma survivors participating in the AURORA Study. Their time and effort during a challenging period of their lives make our efforts to improve recovery for future trauma survivors possible.


Funding for the study was provided by NIMH U01MH110925, the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, The One Mind Foundation, and The Mayday Fund. Verily Life Sciences and Mindstrong Health provided some of the hardware and software used to perform study assessments.

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Correspondence to Samuel A. McLean.

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Menachem Fromer and Tushar Parlikar are employees of and have financial holdings in Verily Life Sciences. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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McLean, S.A., Ressler, K., Koenen, K.C. et al. The AURORA Study: a longitudinal, multimodal library of brain biology and function after traumatic stress exposure. Mol Psychiatry 25, 283–296 (2020).

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