UNL study shows childhood physical abuse permanently alters brain structure

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MRI brain scans showing differences in white matter tracts (COURTESY UNL / HIDEO SUZUKI)

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

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

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

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

Joshi is working with neuroscientist Hideo Suzuki on the research.

The initial findings are based on the MRI scans of 49 college students.

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

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

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

For more information on the study, click here.

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