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Investigating patterns of neural response associated with childhood abuse v. childhood neglect

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2019

Vanessa Bianca Puetz
Affiliation:
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Kantor Centre of Excellence, 4-8 Rodney Street, LondonN1 9JH, UK
Essi Viding
Affiliation:
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK
Mattia Indi Gerin
Affiliation:
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK
Jean-Baptiste Pingault
Affiliation:
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK
Arjun Sethi
Affiliation:
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK
Annchen R. Knodt
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Laboratory of NeuroGenetics, Duke University, Durham, NC27708, USA
Spenser R. Radtke
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Laboratory of NeuroGenetics, Duke University, Durham, NC27708, USA
Bart D. Brigidi
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Laboratory of NeuroGenetics, Duke University, Durham, NC27708, USA
Ahmad R. Hariri
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Laboratory of NeuroGenetics, Duke University, Durham, NC27708, USA
Eamon McCrory
Affiliation:
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Kantor Centre of Excellence, 4-8 Rodney Street, LondonN1 9JH, UK
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Background

Childhood maltreatment is robustly associated with increased risk of poor mental health outcome and changes in brain function. The authors investigated whether childhood experience of abuse (e.g. physical, emotional and sexual abuse) and neglect (physical and emotional deprivation) was differentially associated with neural reactivity to threat.

Methods

Participants were drawn from an existing study and allocated to one of four groups based on self-report of childhood maltreatment experience: individuals with childhood abuse experiences (n = 70); individuals with childhood neglect experiences (n = 87); individuals with combined experience of childhood abuse and neglect (n = 50); and non-maltreated individuals (n = 207) propensity score matched (PSM) on gender, age, IQ, psychopathology and SES. Neural reactivity to facial cues signalling threat was compared across groups, allowing the differential effects associated with particular forms of maltreatment experience to be isolated.

Results

Brain imaging analyses indicated that while childhood abuse was associated with heightened localised threat reactivity in ventral amygdala, experiences of neglect were associated with heightened reactivity in a distributed cortical fronto-parietal network supporting complex social and cognitive processing as well as in the dorsal amygdala. Unexpectedly, combined experiences of abuse and neglect were associated with hypo-activation in several higher-order cortical regions as well as the amygdala.

Conclusions

Different forms of childhood maltreatment exert differential effects in neural threat reactivity: while the effects of abuse are more focal, the effects of neglect and combined experiences of abuse are more distributed. These findings are relevant for understanding the range of psychiatric outcomes following childhood maltreatment and have implications for intervention.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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