UNL Study Shows Childhood Physical Abuse Permanently Alters Brain Structure

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Brain MRI showing differences in white matter pathways (COURTESY UNL/HIDEO SUZUKI)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A new study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows the lasting impacts of physical abuse on brain structure.

As broken bones heal and bruises fade, the brain suffers a permanent form of scaring.

This lasting impact prevents victims from accessing the parts of their brains that regulate emotions.

Om Joshi, instructor and graduate student at UNL, presented his early findings at the 2022 Association for Psychological Science convention.

Joshi is working with neuroscientist Hideo Suzuki on the research.

The first results are based on MRI examinations of 49 students.

After their MRI, the students completed a demographic assessment and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, which asks about physical abuse.

The study showed a disconnect in areas of the brain related to behavioral and emotional controls, memory processing, and relaying sensory and motor signals.

“Increased levels of physical abuse are associated with greater difficulty accessing areas of the brain that regulate emotions,” Suzuki said.

For more information on the study, Click here.

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