Association of childhood trauma with cognitive function in healthy adults: a pilot study.

Matthias Majer, Urs M Nater, Jin-Mann S Lin, Lucile Capuron, William C Reeves
BMC Neurol. 2010-07-14; 10(1):
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2377-10-61

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1. BMC Neurol. 2010 Jul 14;10:61. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-10-61.

Association of childhood trauma with cognitive function in healthy adults: a
pilot study.

Majer M(1), Nater UM, Lin JM, Capuron L, Reeves WC.

Author information:
(1)Chronic Viral Diseases Branch, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases,
Centers for Disease Control& Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.

BACKGROUND: Animal and human studies suggest that stress experienced early in
life has detrimental consequences on brain development, including brain regions
involved in cognitive function. Cognitive changes are cardinal features of
depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Early-life trauma is a major risk
factor for these disorders. Only few studies have measured the long-term
consequences of childhood trauma on cognitive function in healthy adults.
METHODS: In this pilot study, we investigated the relationship between childhood
trauma exposure and cognitive function in 47 healthy adults, who were identified
as part of a larger study from the general population in Wichita, KS. We used the
Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) and the
Wide-Range-Achievement-Test (WRAT-3) to examine cognitive function and individual
achievement. Type and severity of childhood trauma was assessed by the Childhood
Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Data were analyzed using multiple linear regression
on CANTAB measures with primary predictors (CTQ scales) and potential confounders
(age, sex, education, income).
RESULTS: Specific CTQ scales were significantly associated with measures of
cognitive function. Emotional abuse was associated with impaired spatial working
memory performance. Physical neglect correlated with impaired spatial working
memory and pattern recognition memory. Sexual abuse and physical neglect were
negatively associated with WRAT-3 scores. However, the association did not reach
the significance level of p < 0.01. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that physical neglect and emotional abuse might be associated with memory deficits in adulthood, which in turn might pose a risk factor for the development of psychopathology. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2377-10-61 PMCID: PMC2910667 PMID: 20630071 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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