child abuse and the brain


Children exposed to family violence show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat, scientists said on Monday.

In a study in the journal Current Biology, researchers used brain scans to explore the impact of physical abuse or domestic violence on children's emotional development and found that exposure to it was linked to increased activity in two brain areas when children were shown pictures of angry faces.

Previous studies that scanned the brains of soldiers exposed to violent combat situations showed the same pattern of heightened activity in these two brain areas -- the anterior insula and the amygdala -- which experts say are associated with detecting potential threats.

This suggests that both maltreated children and soldiers may have adapted to become "hyper-aware" of danger in their environment, the researchers said.

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