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Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Lisa Martorano
Title Analysis of Brain Structure in a Community Sample of Women with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a Result of Chile Abuse Exposure
Department Biology & Psychology
Advisors Cathy Pederson, Tim Lewis, and Stephanie Little
Year 2008
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (1541 KB) Note: This is a very large file; it may be easier to download the file to your computer and open it from there.
Abstract The long term effects of child abuse can deter brain development and function in adult abuse survivors. This study attempts to make a positive correlation between participants with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) secondary to child abuse and reduced volumes in the hippocampus, pituitary, and caudate nucleus. Participants were recruited through newspaper advertisement and were right handed females between 20 and 40 years of age. Women who matched the study criteria, based on phone interviews, were screened using a demographics questionnaire and a variety of psychological testing including the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and Millon Multiaxial Clinician Inventory. Those accepted into the study took the Weschler Memory Scale, Wonderlic Personnel Test, Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, and a magnetic resonance image of their brain. Women were then placed into one of three groups: post traumatic stress disorder as a result of child abuse (n=21), child abuse without PTSD (n=18), and normal controls (n=21). Each MRI slice of a brain structure was traced three times using the 3DBrainStation. Averages were calculated and summed to determine total volume of each structure. Demographic matching between groups showed no differences in age, body mass index, education, alcoholic drinks per year, and pack years smoking (p>0.05). There was no significant difference between the groups in hippocampal (p=0.426 left, 0.547 right), pituitary (p=0.273) and caudate nucleus (p=0.622 left, 0.959 right) volumes. Furthermore, PTSD diagnosis did not influence structural volume. The results show that child abuse may not be a detrimental factor in altering brain structural development in a community sample of women with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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