The Neurobiology and Aetiology of Dissociative Identity Disorder and Beyond

Almost 35 years ago the first functional brain imaging study in an individual with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) was performed using positron emission tomography (PET). This study of the resting brain found hyperperfusion in the right temporal lobe (Mathew et al., 1985) a region that was also identified as a possible neurostructural biomarker for DID in the latest brain imaging study of the presenter (Reinders et al. 2019). The field of imaging neuroscience has developed rapidly, but studies into brain function and structure of pathological dissociation, such as DID, remain relatively scarce. This plenary will inform on how brain imaging is more that only fancy pictures. It will provide an overview of imaging research using the PET and fMRI techniques and will show how brain imaging can be used to aid the aetiology debate, but also clinically by aiding the diagnosis of DID. The presenter will also reflect on how brain imaging can aid DID and other disorders involving early traumatization and/or pathological dissociation.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in May 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Explain how objective brain imaging data can inform the debate on the aetiology of DID
  • Describe how structural brain imaging can aid an earlier diagnosis and therefore has clinical relevance
  • Evaluate the evidence for biomarkers for pathological dissociation
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter:  AAT Simone Reinders, PhD
Presenter Bio: Dr A.A.T. Simone Reinders is a leading neuroscientist and international expert on the brain imaging correlates of dissociative identity disorder disorder (DID). Simone studied Applied Physics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), where she also obtained her doctorate in Medical Sciences with the highest Dutch distinction Cum Laude. She received the most prestigious grant for young investigators, only awarded to the top 5% most promising researchers in the Netherlands. This allowed her to successfully lead a multi-center neuroimaging project investigating the neural correlates of DID. Simone’s current work entitled “Neuroimaging the Aetiology of DID” aims to provide objective data to aid the debate on the aetiology of DID. In parallel Simone is developing her research line to disseminate neurobiomarkers of trauma-related dissociation. Simone’s pioneering research was the first to show identity-state-dependent blood-flow patters in the brain in individuals with DID. Follow-up research showed that these patterns cannot be simulated. Furthermore, her team showed that DID and PTSD share trauma-related neurobiomarkers. Her research has significantly advanced the understanding of brain function and structural brain abnormalities in DID. She has published 42 peer-reviewed publications and has an H-index of 22.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

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