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An investigation into the impact of childhood maltreatment on brain structure

Kelly, PA; (2015) An investigation into the impact of childhood maltreatment on brain structure. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Childhood maltreatment remains a major public health concern and has been shown to significantly elevate the risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. However, there is limited understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which maltreatment heightens risk of psychiatric outcomes. By investigating cortical structural abnormalities associated with maltreatment in childhood we hope to learn more about the possible pathways that lead from abuse to psychopathology. This thesis sets out to systematically investigate two main questions within one of the largest community samples of maltreated adolescents studied to date. First, the way in which maltreatment experience impacts on brain structure. In Chapter 2, novel surface-based neuroimaging analysis techniques are used to investigate the impact of maltreatment on discrete structural indices, including cortical thickness, surface area and local gyrification. Chapter 3 explores how dimensions of maltreatment, comprising severity, subtype and duration of abuse, influence the impact of childhood maltreatment on cortical volume. Chapter 4 extends this investigation into the impact of maltreatment characteristics on cortical structure using surface-based methods of structural analysis. Second, this thesis aims to investigate sex differences in how maltreatment experience impacts brain structure, given that males and females are observed to exhibit differing behavioural and psychopathological outcomes associated with the experience of childhood maltreatment. Chapter 5 explores the sexually dimorphic impact of maltreatment on cortical volume, and this investigation is replicated in Chapter 6 in relation to distinct cortical indices using surface-based methods. Finally, Chapter 7 summarises the implications of these empirical studies, and considers the hypothesis that such cortical differences may constitute biological markers of vulnerability, increasing risk for psychiatric disorders across the lifespan.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An investigation into the impact of childhood maltreatment on brain structure
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469575
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