Complex Trauma and Brain Integrity

Proposal details

Title: The Long-Term Impact of Complex Trauma on Neurocognitive Functioning and Brain Volume
Research Area(s): Brain Imaging
Emotion and Self Regulation
Thinking and Cognition
Background: Complex trauma has been defined as a traumatic event that is chronic, interpersonal, and begins early in life. Research has demonstrated that exposure to complex trauma events is associated with a myriad of deleterious outcomes. Prior work has also found that exposure to traumatic events, not specifically complex trauma, negatively impacts cognition and select brain structures. Although it has been theorized that complex trauma exposure adversely alters cognition and brain structure, research specifically examining this type of exposure has yet to be conducted. Exposure to complex trauma events is likely related to worse outcomes compared to less severe traumatic events and other stressful life events occurring early in life.
Aims: 1.) Investigate the impact of complex trauma on neurocognitive deficits and brain structure. It is expected that exposure to complex trauma will be associated with impairments in cognition and smaller brain volumes. 2.) Contrast exposure to complex trauma with traumatic events of lesser severity and other early life stressors. Complex trauma exposure is anticipated to be related to worse neurocognitive outcomes and smaller brain volumes compared to trauma ecologies of lesser severity.
Method: The impact of complex trauma exposure on neurocognition and brain volumes will be contrasted with less severe trauma ecologies and other stressful early life events.