Functional brain plasticity following childhood maltreatment: A longitudinal fMRI investigation of autobiographical memory processing

V. B. Puetz, E. Viding, E. A. Maguire, A. Mechelli, D. Armbruster-Genç, M. Sharp, G. Rankin, M. I. Gerin, E. J. Mccrory*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Altered autobiographical memory (ABM) processing characterizes some individuals with experiences of childhood maltreatment. This fMRI study of ABM processing evaluated potential developmental plasticity in neural functioning following maltreatment. Adolescents with (N = 19; MT group) and without (N = 18; Non-MT group) documented childhood maltreatment recalled specific ABMs in response to emotionally valenced cue words during fMRI at baseline (age 12.71 ± 1.48) and follow-up (14.88 ± 1.53 years). Psychological assessments were collected at both timepoints. Longitudinal analyses were carried out with BOLD signal changes during ABM recall and psychopathology to investigate change over time. In both groups there was relative stability of the ABM brain network, with some developmental maturational changes observed in cortical midline structures (ventromedial PFC (vmPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (pCC), and retrosplenial cortex (rSC). Significantly increased activation of the right rSC was observed only in the MT group, which was associated with improved psychological functioning. Baseline group differences in relation to hippocampal functioning, were not detected at follow-up. This study provides preliminary empirical evidence of functional developmental plasticity in children with documented maltreatment experience using fMRI. This suggests that altered patterns of brain function, associated with maltreatment experience, are not fixed and may reflect the potential to track a neural basis of resilience.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Early online date20 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • autobiographical memory
  • brain plasticity
  • childhood maltreatment
  • fMRI
  • Keywords:
  • longitudinal study

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