Maltreatment and brain development: The effects of abuse and neglect on longitudinal trajectories of neural activation during risk processing and cognitive control


The profound effects of child maltreatment on brain functioning have been documented. Yet, little is known about whether distinct maltreatment experiences are differentially related to underlying neural processes of risky decision making: valuation and control. Using conditional growth curve modeling, we compared a cumulative approach versus a dimensional approach (relative effects of abuse and neglect) to examine the link between child maltreatment and brain development. The sample included 167 adolescents (13–14 years at Time 1, 53 % male), assessed annually four times. Risk processing was assessed by blood-oxygen-level-dependent responses (BOLD) during a lottery choice task, and cognitive control by BOLD responses during the Multi-Source Interference Task. Cumulative maltreatment effects on insula and dorsolateral anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activation during risk processing were not significant. However, neglect (but not abuse) was associated with slower developmental increases in insula and dACC activation. In contrast, cumulative maltreatment effects on fronto-parietal activation during cognitive control were significant, and abuse (but not neglect) was associated with steeper developmental decreases in fronto-parietal activation. The results suggest neglect effects on detrimental neurodevelopment of the valuation system and abuse effects on accelerated neurodevelopment of the control system, highlighting differential effects of distinct neglect versus abuse adverse experiences on neurodevelopment.

Social Sciences, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Psychology, Developmental, Neurosciences, Psychology, Neurosciences & Neurology, Child maltreatment, Abuse, Neglect, Risk processing, Cognitive control, Functional neuroimaging, CHILDHOOD ABUSE, EARLY EXPERIENCE, DECISION-MAKING, ASSOCIATIONS, ADOLESCENCE, DIMENSIONS, STRESS, PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, DEPRIVATION, ADVERSITY, 1103 Clinical Sciences, 1109 Neurosciences, 1702 Cognitive Sciences