Childhood Trauma, Brain Structure and Emotion Recognition in Patients With Schizophrenia and Healthy Participants

Karolina I. Rokita; Laurena Holleran; Maria R. Dauvermann; David Mothersill; Jessica Holland; Laura Costello; Ruán Kane; Declan McKernan; Derek W. Morris; John P. Kelly; Aiden Corvin; Brian Hallahan; Colm McDonald; Gary Donohoe


Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2020;15(12):1336-1350. 

In This Article


In conclusion, our findings provide further evidence of an association between childhood trauma, specifically physical neglect and total childhood trauma, emotion recognition and variation in brain volume in stress- and emotion-associated brain regions in both healthy participants and patients with SZ. We also provide novel evidence that variation in ACC volumes may mediate the association observed between childhood trauma and the ability to recognise emotions, suggesting that one potential mechanism by which childhood trauma may exert a deleterious effect on social cognitive function is via specific brain areas. If replicated, these findings have important implications for clinical and translational research as they underline the importance of early interventions (e.g. parenting or general community-wide programmes) aimed at preventing or reducing childhood maltreatment as well as promoting healthy child development and positive parenting. Since childhood trauma experiences have a particularly high prevalence in people with psychiatric disorders and thus, are considered a risk factor for mental health problems, development and implementation of these interventions are of crucial importance.

Future studies should investigate the possible role of genetic variation combined with childhood trauma in contributing to both changes in brain structure and neurocognitive function in both clinical and non-clinical populations. So doing is likely to be highly informative in the further development of early intervention strategies aiming to mitigate the detrimental effects of trauma.