Preliminary Evidence for White Matter Tract Abnormalities in Young Adults Exposed to Parental Verbal Abuse

Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.26). 09/2008; 65(3):227-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.06.022
Source: PubMed


Psychiatric sequelae of exposure to parental verbal abuse (PVA) appear to be comparable with that of nonfamilial sexual abuse and witnessing domestic violence. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to ascertain whether PVA was associated with abnormalities in white matter (WM) tract integrity.
1271 healthy young adults were screened for exposure to childhood adversity. Diffusion tensor imaging was collected on 16 unmedicated subjects with history of high-level exposure to PVA but no other form of maltreatment (4 male/12 female subjects, mean age 21.9 +/- 2.4 years) and 16 healthy control subjects (5 male/11 female subjects, 21.0 +/- 1.6 years). Group differences in fractional anisotropy (FA), covaried by parental education and income, were assessed using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS).
Three WM tract regions had significantly reduced FA: 1) arcuate fasciculus in left superior temporal gyrus, 2) cingulum bundle by the posterior tail of the left hippocampus, and 3) the left body of the fornix. Fractional anisotropy in these areas was strongly associated with average PVA scores (r(s) = -.701, -.801, -.524, respectively) and levels of maternal verbal abuse. Across groups, FA in region 1 correlated with verbal IQ and verbal comprehension index. Fractional anisotropy in region 2 was inversely associated with ratings of depression, dissociation, and limbic irritability. Fractional anisotropy in region 3 was inversely correlated with ratings of somatization and anxiety.
Exposure to PVA may be associated with alteration in the integrity of neural pathways with implications for language development and psychopathology.

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    • "). Others have illustrated that specific forms of childhood maltreatment result in reduced functional integrity of white matter tracts (Choi et al., 2009, 2012). One nonhuman primate proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging [ 1 H MRSI] study reported a decreased N-acetyl-aspartate/choline (NAA/Cho) 1 ratio in the left medial temporal lobe (Coplan et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The rostral prefrontal cortex (RPFC) is involved in reflective thought processes such as self-knowledge and person perception. We hypothesized that childhood emotional abuse, which is disruptive of emotional regulation, would differentially impact neurometabolite concentrations of the RPFC, and related neocortical areas, in adults with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) versus healthy controls. Methods: GAD patients (n=16; females=11) and medically healthy volunteers (n=16; F=10) were assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), specifically the emotional abuse category. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging examined 3 regions of interest (ROI) from the most rostral slice from the Duyn et al. (1993) multivoxel imaging modality: rostral prefrontal cortex (BA 10,9), premotor cortex (BA 6,8) and secondary somatosensory and associated parietal cortex (BA 5,7). Metabolites included N-acetyl-aspartate, creatine, and choline. Results: GAD patients reported higher emotional abuse scores versus controls. An omnibus general linear model including 3 ROI, 3 metabolites, and laterality as dependent variables revealed a significant diagnosis by CTQ emotional abuse score interactive effect. In controls, all 3 ROI for all 3 metabolites on both sides demonstrated a significant inverse relationship with emotional abuse scores; none were significant in GAD patients. Limitations: A major limitation is the uneven distribution of emotional abuse scores between the controls and GAD patients, with GAD patients reporting higher scores. Conclusion: Unlike controls, GAD patients appear compromised in forming a molecular representation reflective of magnitude of childhood emotional abuse. The neurometabolites in GAD patients appear non-aligned to childhood emotional abuse, suggesting potential consequences for normative "theory of mind" processes and emotional function in certain anxiety disorders.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 11/2015; 190:414-423. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2015.09.019 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    • "Subjects witnessing domestic violence during childhood reported reduced grey matter (GM) volume in visual cortex (Tomoda et al., 2013). Similarly, an increase in grey matter volume in left superior temporal gyrus (auditory cortex) was observed in a sample of young adults exposed to high levels of parental verbal abuse (Choi et al., 2009). By contrast, exposure to multiple forms of adversity associated with corticostriatal-limbic morphology (Edmiston et al., 2012), smaller brain volume, corpus callosum atrophy (De Bellis, 1999; Teicher et al., 2004), and smaller hippocampal volume (Dannlowski et al., 2012a; Rao et al., 2010) Several studies reported that patients affected by psychiatric disorders have a highly prevalent history of childhood maltreatment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) can lead to several negative consequences in adult life, are highly prevalent in psychiatric disorders where they associate with clinical and brain morphological features. Grey matter volume loss is a central characteristic of bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SCZ). The aim of this study is to measure the effect of diagnosis and ACE on GM volume in a sample of patients with BD or SCZ compared with healthy controls (HC). Methods: We studied 206 depressed BD patients, 96 SCZ patients and 136 healthy subjects. GM volumes were estimated with 3.0 Tesla MRI and analyzed with VBM technique. The effect of diagnosis was investigated in the whole sample and separately exposed to high and low ACE subjects. Results: An effect of diagnosis was observed in orbitofrontal cortex encompassing BA 47 and insula, and in the thalamus. HC had the highest volume and SCZ patients the lowest with BD patients showing an intermediate volume. This pattern persisted only in subjects with high ACE. No differences were observed for low ACE subjects. Limitations: The three diagnostic groups differ for age and education, previous and current medications, and treatment periods. Conclusions: Our results underline the importance of ACE on the neural underpinnings of psychiatric psychopathology and suggest a major role of exposure to ACE for the GM deficits to reveal in clinical populations. Exposure to early stress is a crucial factor that must be taken in to account when searching for biomarkers of BD and SCZ.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 10/2015; 189:290-297. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2015.09.049 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    • "Additional findings of increase in GMV in left parahippocampal gyrus and reduced GMV in right middle frontal gyrus were only observed at the uncorrected voxel level and mentioned for completeness. They are consistent with previous findings of reduced FA in the cingulum bundle in the left parahippocampal gyrus of subjects with PVA (Choi et al., 2009) and reduced right prefrontal cortex GMV in subjects exposed to harsh corporal punishment (Tomoda et al., 2009b). There is no guarantee that these were not false-positive results or that all relevant brain areas were identified. "

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