Childhood’s traumatic events can affect brain in adulthood: Research

WION Web Team
Ottawa, Canada Published: Feb 12, 2021, 03:49 PM(IST)

A paralysed man has been able to make a post on social media “using only direct thought” with the help of an implant in Australia on Thursday (representative image). Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

With the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 35 adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 35 healthy controls, cross-referenced with questionnaires, the research seems to have found a crucial link between neural tissue volume and childhood traumatic stress

Scientists seems to have proven that traumatic and stressful events in childhood can affect the brain into adulthood, identifying for the first-time specific alterations to key brain structures in the amygdala and the hippocampus. 

With the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 35 adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 35 healthy controls, cross-referenced with questionnaires, the research seems to have found a crucial link between neural tissue volume and childhood traumatic stress. 

Maltreatment and negative experiences early in life are known to be the risk factors for developing mental health disorders, such as MDD. The team behind this new study thinks that changes in brain function might be one of the reasons for it. 

With the help of the study, researchers are able to identify, which specific regions of amygdala or the hippocampus, get altered by childhood trauma incidents, they can make attempts to mitigate or reverse the changes.   

The recent improvements in the MRI scanning technology mean these particular areas of the brain could be studied in detail in human volunteers, building on the previous research that looked at the link between brain volume in animals and stress. 

As amygdala and hippocampus continue to grow and evolve for a long time after birth, they are of particular interest to scientists studying childhood development. They are also associated with learning, memory, and the management of emotions, fear and stress. 

The damage done in the early years can make the brain – and the amygdala and hippocampus in particular – more vulnerable to stresses that come along later in life, suggest researchers.

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