Proposal details

Title: The effects of BDNF on subcortical volumes in individuals who have experienced early adversity
Research Area(s): Brain Imaging
Background: There is growing evidence that certain genetic variants (eg a functional polymorphism in brain derived neurotrophic factor, val66met) and certain environmental factors (eg exposure to early adversity) influence brain volumes. It is particularly notable that both the val66met BDNF polymorphism and exposure to early adversity may be associated with decreased hippocampal volume, as this may contribute to explaining subsequent associated alterations in neuropsychological function as well as vulnerability to psychopathology. The precise neurotophic mechanisms whereby the val66met BDNF polymorphism may affect volume are gradually being unconvered, and there is also a growing literature on the mechanisms whereby early adversity may affect volumes; these may well include neurotrophic processes. Despite a growing literature on the importance of gene-environment interactions in affecting subsequent behavioral outcomes, there is relatively little data on the role of gene-environment interactions in affecting brain volumes, and associated neuropsychological changes.
Aims: In this study we propose to determine the effects of the BDNF variant, early adversity, and their interaction, on subcortical volumes and associated neuropsychological tasks. More specifically, we proposed that individuals with both the val66met variant of BDNF and early exposure to adversity, are at particular risk for decreased hippocampal volume, and memory impairment.
Method: Group analyses by ELS and BDNF status. Dependent measures will be hippocampal volume and memory scores.