Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


Trauma, media and the brain

Greater exposure to media coverage of traumatic events is associated with greater symptoms of post-traumatic stress. A new study by Dick et al. indicates that this relationship is stronger in youth with a specific pattern of brain activation that may make them more vulnerable to the effects of trauma.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Breslau, N. The epidemiology of posttraumatic stress disorder: what is the extent of the problem? J. Clin. Psychiatry 62(suppl. 17), 16–22 (2001).

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Holman, E. A., Garfin, D. R. & Silver, R. C. Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 93–98 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Schlenger, W. E. et al. Psychological reactions to terrorist attacks: findings from the National Study of Americans’ Reactions to September 11. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 288, 581–588 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Dick, A. S. et al. Neural vulnerability and hurricane-related media are associated with posttraumatic stress in youth. Nat. Hum. Behav. (2021).

  5. McLaughlin, K. A. et al. Amygdala response to negative stimuli predicts PTSD symptom onset following a terrorist attack. Depress. Anxiety 31, 834–842 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Likhtik, E. & Paz, R. Amygdala-prefrontal interactions in (mal)adaptive learning. Trends Neurosci. 38, 158–166 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Weathers, F. W., Marx, B. P., Friedman, M. J. & Schnurr, P. P. Posttraumatic stress disorder in DSM-5: new criteria, new measures, and implications for assessment. Psychol. Inj. Law 7, 93–107 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lisa M. Shin.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Shin, L.M., Sommers, S.R. Trauma, media and the brain. Nat Hum Behav 5, 1471–1472 (2021).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing