The relating to others factor of post-traumatic growth (PTG), which involves mutual help and a strong sense of connection with humanity, is important for young people who are coping with stress. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), especially the dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC), may play an important role in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with regard to coping and resilience. We hypothesized that the neural correlates of PTG may be responsible for resilience to the correlates of PTSD. Our study tested this hypothesis by examining whether measures of PTG, particularly the measures of relating to others after a disaster, were associated with increased regional grey matter volume (rGMV) in the PFC by assessing individuals who had experienced the East Japan Great Earthquake. We calculated the delta-rGMV by subtracting the rGMV obtained 3 months before the disaster from the rGMV obtained after this disaster using voxel-based morphometry. The magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from 26 subjects (M/F: 21/5; age: 21.2 ± 1.6 yrs.) showed that the total scores on a PTG inventory and the subscore for relating to others at the post-assessment were positively and significantly associated with the delta-rGMV in the right DLPFC. The DLPFC seems to be the main neural correlate of PTG.
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