The Psychology of Trauma

Child Abuse

What are the neurobiological effects of childhood trauma?

In the developing child’s brain, trauma can affect the very structure of the brain cells. Trauma can hinder mylenation, the growth of a fatty insulation around the neuron’s axon. Myelin improves the speed of electrical impulses travelling across the neuron. Trauma can also hinder synaptogenesis, the formation of connections between cells as well as the morphology or shape of the cell itself. Altogether, this reduces the density and connectivity of the brain. Moreover, brain cells are damaged in areas of the brain involved with emotion, memory, and behavioral control. Such areas include the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the frontal lobe.


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