Corpus callosum in maltreated children with posttraumatic stress disorder: a diffusion tensor imaging study.

Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.
Psychiatry Research (Impact Factor: 2.68). 05/2008; 162(3):256-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2007.08.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Contrary to expectations derived from preclinical studies of the effects of stress, and imaging studies of adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is no evidence of hippocampus atrophy in children with PTSD. Multiple pediatric studies have reported reductions in the corpus callosum--the primary white matter tract in the brain. Consequently, in the present study, diffusion tensor imaging was used to assess white matter integrity in the corpus callosum in 17 maltreated children with PTSD and 15 demographically matched normal controls. Children with PTSD had reduced fractional anisotropy in the medial and posterior corpus, a region which contains interhemispheric projections from brain structures involved in circuits that mediate the processing of emotional stimuli and various memory functions--core disturbances associated with a history of trauma. Further exploration of the effects of stress on the corpus callosum and white matter development appears a promising strategy to better understand the pathophysiology of PTSD in children.

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