Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Child Abuse and the Brain

Some research shows that maltreatment may affect brain anatomy. For example, in one study researchers examined the brains of maltreated children and adolescents with PTSD. Compared with healthy individuals who never experienced abuse, those who were maltreated have smaller brain areas. Included is the cerebral cortex and prefrontal cortex, which help carry out complex actions; the corpus callosum, which helps the two sides of the brain communicate; as well as the temporal lobes and the amygdala, areas thought to be involved with emotion and memory. Research also finds that a memory area, the hippocampus, is smaller in adult survivors of abuse with PTSD. Although still under investigation, it's possible that experiencing maltreatment during youth harms overall brain development and helps spur the ailments that seem to be common in these individuals.

The full article can be found here:
PDF Here: http://apu.sfn.org/content/Publications/BrainBriefings/BrainBriefings_Feb2003.pdf

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