Beating the brain about abuse: Empirical and meta-analytic studies of the association between maltreatment and hippocampal volume across childhood and adolescence

M.M.E. Riem, Lenneke R. A. Alink, Dorothee Out, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

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Abstract

We present new empirical data and meta-analytic evidence for the association of childhood maltreatment with reduced hippocampal volume. In Study 1, we examined the effects of maltreatment experiences reported during the Adult Attachment Interview on hippocampal volume in female twin pairs. We found that reduced hippocampal volume was related to childhood maltreatment. In addition, individuals who reported having experienced maltreatment at older ages had larger reductions in hippocampal volume compared to individuals who reported maltreatment in early childhood. In Study 2, we present the results of a meta-analysis of 49 studies (including 2,720 participants) examining hippocampal volume in relation to experiences of child maltreatment, and test the moderating role of the timing of the maltreatment, the severity of maltreatment, and the time after exposure to maltreatment. The results of the meta-analysis confirmed that experiences of childhood maltreatment are associated with a reduction in hippocampal volume and that the effects of maltreatment are more pronounced when the maltreatment occurs in middle childhood compared to early childhood or adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-520
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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