Alcohol dependence results in remodeling of functional architecture in rodent’s brain
The researchers scanned the brains of the participants with MRI, focusing on the white matter connectivity between several key areas: the amygdala, which is known to play a role in fear and emotion-processing, and specific regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Earlier work by this research team established that reduced connectivity between the two brain regions is linked to a heightened response to threats by the amygdala.
The scans suggest a link between violence exposure and social deprivation in childhood. When the children in the study experienced more violence (abuse, exposure to intimate partner violence, or neighborhood violence) and social deprivation (child neglect, lack of neighborhood cohesion, and a lack of maternal support), the researchers observed reduced connectivity between the amygdala and the PFC in adolescence.
Neither variable was on its own linked to brain changes. When a child experienced violence but also had social support, the reduced connectivity wasn't evident. The same was true when a child experienced social deprivation but no violence.
The implication is that social deprivation may exacerbate the effects of childhood violence exposure when it comes to these white matter connections. Social support, on the other hand, may act as a buffer." Christopher Monk, University of Michigan
The researchers were surprised to find no link between brain changes and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. But because mental health issues often arise during the transition from adolescence to one's 20s, they plan to follow up with the study participants to track mental health and determine whether the associations between violence exposure, social deprivation, and brain changes persist.
The findings were presented at the 58 th Annual Meeting of The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) in Orlando, FL, December 8-11, 2019. Source:
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