Long-term consequences of childhood maltreatment: Altered amygdala functional connectivity

Kelly Jedd, Ruskin H Hunt, Dante Cicchetti, Emily Hunt, Raquel A. Cowell, Fred A. Rogosch, Sheree L. Toth, Kathleen M Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Childhood maltreatment is a serious individual, familial, and societal threat that compromises healthy development and is associated with lasting alterations to emotion perception, processing, and regulation (Cicchetti & Curtis, 2005; Pollak, Cicchetti, Hornung, & Reed, 2000; Pollak & Tolley-Schell, 2003). Individuals with a history of maltreatment show altered structural and functional brain development in both frontal and limbic structures (Hart & Rubia, 2012). In particular, previous research has identified hyperactive amygdala responsivity associated with childhood maltreatment (e.g., Dannlowski et al., 2012). However, less is known about the impact of maltreatment on the relationship between the amygdala and other brain regions. The present study employed an emotion processing functional magnetic resonance imaging task to examine task-based activation and functional connectivity in adults who experienced maltreatment as children. The sample included adults with a history of substantiated childhood maltreatment (n = 33) and comparison adults (n = 38) who were well matched on demographic variables, all of whom have been studied prospectively since childhood. The maltreated group exhibited greater activation than comparison participants in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia. In addition, maltreated adults showed increased amygdala connectivity with the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The results suggest that the intense early stress of childhood maltreatment is associated with lasting alterations to frontolimbic circuitry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1577-1589
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Volume27
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

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