Learning and memory in Holocaust survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder

Rachel Yehuda, Julia A. Golier, Sarah L. Halligan, Philip D. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Background: Impairments in explicit memory have been observed in Holocaust survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder. Methods: To evaluate which memory components are preferentially affected, the California Verbal Learning Test was administered to Holocaust survivors with (n = 36) and without (n = 26) posttraumatic stress disorder, and subjects not exposed to the Holocaust (n = 40). Results: Posttraumatic stress disorder subjects showed impairments in learning and short-term and delayed retention compared to nonexposed subjects; survivors without posttraumatic stress disorder did not. Impairments in learning, but not retention, were retained after controlling for intelligence quotient. Older age was associated with poorer learning and memory performance in the posttraumatic stress disorder group only. Conclusions: The most robust impairment observed in posttraumatic stress disorder was in verbal learning, which may be a risk factor for or consequence of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. The negative association between performance and age may reflect accelerated cognitive decline in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-295
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2004


  • California Verbal Learning Test
  • Holocaust
  • Memory
  • PTSD
  • Trauma


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