Show/hide main menu

News

News Highlights

Altered brain structure and risk of developing internalising symptoms associated with early adversity

Posted on 18/08/2015
TroubledBoy224by135

Adversity during the first six years of life was associated with higher levels of childhood internalising symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, in a group of boys, as well as altered brain structure in late adolescence between the ages of 18 and 21, according to an article by Sarah KG Jenson and Dr Edward Barker of the Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London.  
 
The paper published today by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics finds both altered brain structure and an increased risk of developing internalising symptoms have been associated with adversity in early life.
 
The researchers examined how adverse experiences within the first six years of life relate to variations in cortical gray matter volume in the brains of adolescent males, both directly and indirectly, through increased levels of childhood internalizing symptoms.
 
The study included a group of 494 mother-son pairs whose mothers reported on family adversities encountered by their sons to age six. Mothers also reported on levels of internalising symptoms (depressive and/or anxiety) when the boys were ages 7, 10 and 13. Imaging data from MRIs was collected in late adolescence.
 
The authors found that among the 494 men included in the analysis, early adversity was associated with alterations in brain structure. Childhood internalizing symptoms were associated with lower gray matter volume in a brain region. Early adversity was associated with higher levels of internalising symptoms, which in turn were associated with a region of lower gray matter volume, which is an example of an indirect effect, according to the results.
 
According to the lead author, Sarah KG Jensen, “The finding that childhood experiences can affect the brain highlights early childhood not only as a period of vulnerability but also a period of opportunity. Interventions toward adversity might help to prevent children from developing internalising symptoms and protect against abnormal brain development”.

Dr Ted Barker adds:  'We tested and confirmed the hypothesis that variation in brain structure that associates with symptoms of depression does so (in part) through the early experience of adversity. In other words, early adversity can ncrease later symptoms of depression/anxiety, which, in turn, can associate with variation in cortical structure. Although this idea has been around for a while, we were the first to examine it with a prospective longitudinal birth cohort, The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which started in the 1990s.'

Notes to editors

Paper reference: Jenson, S. K. G. et al (2015) 'Effect of Early Adversity and Childhood Internalizing Symptoms on Brain Structure in Young Men' Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1486.

For further media information please contact Louise Pratt, Public Relations and Communications Manager, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience on louise.a.pratt@kcl.ac.uk/+44 (0) 20 7848 5378 or +44 (0) 78 5091 9020

For further information about King’s visit our King's in Brief page




Rss Feed Atom Feed

News Highlights:

News Highlights...RSS FeedAtom Feed

One in five over-65s drink at unsafe levels

One in five over-65s drink at unsafe levels

Description
One in five older people who drink alcohol are consuming it at unsafe levels – over 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 units for women each week – according to a study by King's College London.
A link between hypnotic suggestibility and body image:  why some people 'misplace' their own hand

A link between hypnotic suggestibility and body image: why some people 'misplace' their own hand

Description
People who score highly on a test of hypnotic suggestibility are more susceptible to the so-called 'rubber hand illusion', according to new research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN).
Few NHS staff feel able to deal with victims of human trafficking – report

Few NHS staff feel able to deal with victims of human trafficking – report

Description
As many as one in eight NHS staff have treated victims of human trafficking for a range of issues including mental health – although few know how to best respond.
Categories:
Press Release

Share this story:

 

Follow Us

@kingscollegelon

Live Twitter feed...

@kingscollegelon
Join the conversation
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Privacy policy Accessibility Modern slavery statement Contact us

© 2017 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454