Childhood Maltreatment Effects

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Effects Of Maltreatment On Childhood Brain Development

Alysa Treat
T00587098

November 8th, 2016

Neurobiology
Dr. Sayyed

Abstract

In 2013 an estimated 679,000 children were victims of maltreatment and approximately 3.1 million children received help from Childhood Protective Services in the United States alone. Abuse or neglect can be categorized as maltreatment, which takes many different forms from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and parental neglect. It is accepted that childhood maltreatment has lasting effects as the victims grow into adults. One example of these effects is behavioral abnormalities, which are often excused because of the experiences that person has had. Maybe they are
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While some areas of the brain decrease in plasticity as the child gets older. Other areas of the brain still contain plasticity allowing the ability to learn and create new connections. Different areas of the brain contain different sensitive periods, which are times of rapid development. Sensitive periods allow us to identify the periods of time that maltreatment can cause more lasting effects to the specific areas of the brain despite plasticity. If maltreatment occurs during these periods they could be kept from forming crucial experiences, which could lead to brain …show more content…
The type and timing of stress is very important because some can be beneficial while to much stress can become toxic. Repeated exposure to stressful situations during childhood can cause the developing limbic system to release stress-mediated hormones and neurotransmitters effecting development of stress sensitive areas of the brain including the hippocampus, amygdala, neocortex, cerebellum, and white matter tracts. Stress response systems can also be affected, possibly altering the way the body response to stressful situations through processes such as neurogenesis, a process of synaptic overproduction and pruning, and myelination. These areas develop postnatal with some postnatal neurogenesis and many glucocorticoid receptors. As a result damage to stress sensitive areas may produce psychopathology as a result. From an evolutionary prospective early life stress could cause modification in an adaptive manor making the brain more resilient because of its exposure to stress. But this would depend on the amount of stress the child is under as well as the period of exposure. Stress also affects the systems that control neurotransmitters like serotonin reduction, which of can be related to early maternal deprivation. This can reduce the brains neuroplasticity and could potentially lower connectivity within the brain. The Endogenous opiate system is another example of a chemical system that is stress

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