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Journal Article


Lim L, Hart H, Mehta MA, Simmons A, Mirza K, Rubia K. PLoS One 2016; 11(11): e0165547.


Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


(Copyright © 2016, Public Library of Science)






Childhood maltreatment is associated with adverse affective and cognitive consequences including impaired emotion processing, inhibition and attention. However, the majority of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in childhood maltreatment have examined emotion processing, while very few studies have tested the neurofunctional substrates of cognitive functions and none of attention. This study investigated the association between severe childhood abuse and fMRI brain activation during a parametric sustained attention task with a progressively increasing load of sustained attention in 21 medication-naïve, drug-free young people with a history of childhood abuse controlling for psychiatric comorbidities by including 19 psychiatric controls matched for psychiatric diagnoses, and 27 healthy controls. Behaviorally, the participants exposed to childhood abuse showed increased omission errors in the task which correlated positively trend-wise with the duration of their abuse. Neurofunctionally, the participants with a history of childhood abuse, but not the psychiatric controls, displayed significantly reduced activation relative to the healthy controls during the most challenging attention condition only in typical attention regions including left inferior and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, insula and temporal areas. We therefore show for the first time that severe childhood abuse is associated with neurofunctional abnormalities in key ventral frontal-temporal sustained attention regions. The findings represent a first step towards the delineation of abuse-related neurofunctional abnormalities in sustained attention, which may help in the development of effective treatments for victims of childhood abuse.

Language: en


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