Update on major EMDR publications in 2019

Three important articles have been published in 2019 in three of the world’s most important psychological and psychiatric journals, providing strong support to EMDR therapy.

One of these articles was published in Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary scientific journal (IF 43.0), by Baek and colleagues. Their study reveals EMDR’s mechanism of action and neuroanatomical pathway by using an animal model. The authors found that the bilateral stimulation, compared to controlled conditions, leads to a clear and persistent decrease in fear behavior. Contributing to a higher understanding of EMDR, authors found that the bilateral stimulation increased neuronal activity in the superior colliculus and in the mediodorsal thalamus, thus mitigating the excitability of neurons in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala.

The second article was published in Neuron, one of the most influential and leading platform of peer-reviewed scholarly literature in neuroscience (IF 14.4). Maddox and colleagues reviewed the encoding of adversive memory. The authors also discuss EMDR in detail as an effective psychotherapy for re-writing the engrams of traumatic memories, which underlie the persistency of traumatic memories, following the neural encoding of a threatening experience .

The third article was published on Molecular Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Nature Publishing Group. It covers research in biological psychiatry and has an impact factor of 11.9. For the first time, Vinkers and colleagues were able to demonstrate that EMDR can modulate epigenetics in patients with PTSD, in differentially methylated regions, especially the Zinc Finger Protein 57 (ZFP57).

These data provide longitudinal evidence that ZFP57 methylation is involved in both, the development and successful treatment of deployment-related PTSD. This is a first step toward disentangling the interaction between psychological and biological systems, enabling the identification of genomic regions relevant for the etiology and treatment of PTSD


“Neural circuits underlying a psycho-therapeutic regimen for fear disorders”. Jinhee Baek, Sukchan Lee, Taesup Cho, Seong-Wook Kim, Minsoo Kim, Yongwoo Yoon, Ko Keun Kim, Junweon Byun, Sang Jeong Kim, Jaeseung Jeong & Hee-Sup Shin, Nature 566, 339–343 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41586-019-0931-y.

“Deconstructing the Gestalt: Mechanisms of Fear, Threat, and Trauma Memory Encoding”. Stephanie A. Maddox, Jakob Hartmann, Rachel A. Ross and Kerry J. Ressler, Neuron 102, April 3, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2019.03.017

“Successful treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder reverses DNA methylation marks”. Christiaan H. Vinkers, Elbert Geuze, Sanne J. H. van Rooij, Mitzy Kennis, Remmelt R. Schür, Danny M. Nispeling, Alicia K. Smith, Caroline M. Nievergelt, Monica Uddin, Bart P. F. Rutten, Eric Vermetten, Marco P. Boks, Molecular Psychiatry (2019) doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0549-3