Preliminary Evidence for Aberrant Cortical Development in Abused Children: A Quantitative EEG study

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Journal of Neuropsychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.82). 02/1998; 10(3):298-307. DOI: 10.1176/jnp.10.3.298
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Both analyses evaluate the degree of similarity between two EEG signals, though they use distinct mathematical calculations [11]. Sexually-abused women, in particular, show an increase in left intrahemispheric coherence [12], and a decrease in frontal interhemispheric coherence while at rest [13] which could suggest abnormal functional brain connectivity [13]. On the other hand, some studies have reported cognitive deficits in people with diagnoses of CSA and PTSD, finding poor performance in attention, and in abstract reasoning/executive function [14], as well as increased cognitive interference on a color-word Stroop task [15]. "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Personality and Mental Health
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    • "Studies have found that child abuse and neglect impact on the development of the cortex, in particular on the left hemisphere and corpus callosum. A study by Ito et al. (1998) at McLean Hospital found that children with histories of abuse were twice as likely as nonabused children to have abnormal electroencephalographs (EEGs). In a group of 115 psychiatric inpatient children, a significant association was shown between a history of child physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, and EEG abnormalities in the left side of the frontal and temporal region of the brain. "
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    ABSTRACT: The relationship between childhood abuse and adult mental and physical health problems is well documented. Over the lifespan of victims of child abuse, social, psychological and biological consequences of abuse interact in complex ways. A biopsychosocial model is applied to the experiences of adult victims of child abuse to make sense of the complex and varied impacts of child abuse. The long-term difficulties experienced by adult victims of child abuse are discussed in relation to the neurobiological impacts of child abuse on the child’s developing brain. The impact of child abuse on neuro-endocrine functioning and the structure of the brain, in particular on the amygdala, hippocampus, left hemisphere, and corpus callosum are explored. A number of implications for social work practice are outlined.
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