Preliminary Evidence for Aberrant Cortical Development in Abused Children

Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Journal of Neuropsychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.77). 02/1998; 10(3):298-307. DOI: 10.1176/jnp.10.3.298
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objectives of this study were to investigate cortical development and hemispheric asymmetry in abused children. Fifteen hospitalized children (mean age 10.7 +/- 2.5 years) with severe physical or sexual abuse and 15 normal children (10.1 +/- 3.1 years) were studied with quantitative EEG. Abused children had higher levels of left hemisphere coherence and a reversed asymmetry, with left hemisphere coherence significantly exceeding right hemisphere coherence. Left hemisphere coherence decreased more rapidly across electrode distance in normal subjects, suggesting that increased left coherence in abused patients stemmed from a deficit in left cortical differentiation. These findings support the hypothesis that early severe abuse may have a deleterious effect on brain development.

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    • "Research has also revealed that the mother's lack of emotional availability interferes with the child's capacity to regulate affective experience and learn emotion descriptive language (Schore, 2002). Furthermore, a constellation of brain abnormalities associated with memory and language including diminished left hippocampal volumes, reduced corpus callosum size and attenuated activity in the cerebellar vermis has been linked to adverse and/or traumatic childhood environments (Bremner, Randall, & Vermetten, 1997; Ito, Teicher, Glod, & Ackerman, 1998). Additional psychological factors such as depression , post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociation may also play a role in BPD patients' expressive language deficits. "
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    ABSTRACT: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder with known expressive language impairments that may be activated in treatment through interpersonal cues to the trauma memory system of these patients. However, there are few BPD studies investigating this phenomenon empirically. Our previous research is the first known investigation revealing expressive language deficits using clinically relevant trauma-salient stimuli; the current study extends this to compare specific expressive language deficits on a neutral and emotive stimulus and relationships with trauma history. BPD and matched control (N = 24) verbalizations were analysed by computerized measures of language impairment and pause profiles. BPD subjects evidenced greater overall language impairment and reduced syntactic complexity, but not semantic complexity compared with controls. No such differences were found between the two groups on the neutral condition. BPD subjects utilized significantly higher proportions of pauses for both the emotive and neutral condition. BPD subjects used significantly greater proportions of pauses when generating adjectives related to early relationship with mother, not father. Presence of physical abuse history and PTSD related to some expressive language deficits. These results support neuroimaging findings demonstrating reduced activation of the pre-frontal cortex or anterior cingulate, alongside increased bilateral activation of the amygdala, during exposure to trauma-salient stimuli. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Personality and Mental Health 08/2012; 6(3):183-195. DOI:10.1002/pmh.1177 · 0.73 Impact Factor
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    • "Adolescents exposed to child maltreatment will show excessive left hemisphere EEG coherence, replicating previously published work (Ito et al., 1998). 2. They will also exhibit reduced interhemispheric EEG coherence , presumably because of reduced corpus callosum volume. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although the relation between child maltreatment and psychiatric impairment is well documented and preliminary evidence has linked child maltreatment with aberrant cortical connectivity of the left hemisphere, no investigations have attempted to examine these relations in the same study. Here, we examined the links among early adversity, brain connectivity, and functional outcomes. We collected resting regional EEG intra- and interhemispheric alpha-band (7.5-12.5 Hz) coherence and measures of general psychiatric impairment from a cohort of 38 adolescent females exposed to child maltreatment (M age = 14.47) and 24 adolescent females not exposed to child maltreatment (M age = 14.00). Maltreated youths exhibited more left hemisphere EEG coherence than the control youths, suggesting a suboptimal organization of cortical networks. Maltreated participants also showed reduced frontal (anterior) interhemispheric coherence. These differences in brain circuitry remained statistically significant even after controlling for group differences in pubertal status and socioeconomic status. Measures of functional brain connectivity were associated with several subtypes of abuse and neglect. It was important that atypical left hemisphere EEG coherence mediated the effects of child maltreatment on levels of psychiatric impairment. The findings are discussed in the context of models linking early adversity to brain function and psychopathology.
    Development and Psychopathology 05/2010; 22(2):419-32. DOI:10.1017/S0954579410000155 · 4.89 Impact Factor
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    • "Those with childhood traumas exhibited increased coherence of the alpha band, much like what we might expect in a sample of people scoring lower on intelligence. Perhaps childhood trauma restricted normal neurodevelopment, as suggested by Ito et al (1998), and resulted in delayed or impaired cognitive development. It is also possible that those low on intelligence were simply more likely to report an event as being traumatic because it affected them more than the same event may have affected those higher on intelligence. "
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    ABSTRACT: Neural connectivity differences between adults reporting childhood, adulthood or no history of trauma were examined. A total of 39 participants completed the Post-traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS; Foa EB. Post-traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS) Manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems, 1995), a Word Memory Task (WMT; [McNally RJ, Metzger LJ, Lasko NB, Clancy SA, Pitman RK. Directed forgetting of trauma cues in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse with and without post-traumatic stress disorder. J Abnorm Psychol 1998;107:596-601]) and EEG analysis. Intelligence was not assessed during the study. As predicted, those with childhood trauma had significantly higher EEG coherence than those with either adulthood trauma or no past trauma. Significant differences were observed over frontal, central, temporal and parietal areas. Evidence was found suggesting that childhood psychological trauma may have a lasting impact on neuronal connectivity. This is the first study to demonstrate the suspected long term effect of trauma over central, temporal and parietal areas. Long term neural correlates of childhood and adult trauma appear to suggest information processing differences--differences that may, eventually, lead to better interventions following trauma.
    Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 02/2009; 120(2):309-14. DOI:10.1016/j.clinph.2008.11.021 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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