CLINICAL UNIT BASED RESEARCH
Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program
Effects of Early Trauma/Stress on Brain Development
The brain is a plastic organ. Genes largely dictate the circuits and pathways, but experience is the ultimate sculpture. We were the first to propose that early abuse exerts a persistent deleterious effects on brain development, and have taken the lead in efforts to subject this hypothesis to scientific test.
- Childhood abuse is associated with a two-fold increased incidence of EEG abnormalities in left but not right hemisphere.
- Documented childhood abuse is associated with diminished cortical development of the left but not right hemisphere as assessed by EEG coherence.
- Childhood abuse is associated with diminished area of the mid portions of the corpus callosum.
- Functional MRI assessment of brain perfusion indicates that adults with a history of abuse have a significant left/right hemisphere disparity, while perfusion of the two hemispheres is tightly coupled in normal controls.
- Repeated stress during early development causes rats to become persistently hyperactive or restless, and enhances dopamine and diminishes serotonin activity in nucleus accumbens and amygdala.