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Probing associations between structural brain connectivity, childhood maltreatment, and later antisocial behavior

Kahhale, Isabella (2023) Probing associations between structural brain connectivity, childhood maltreatment, and later antisocial behavior. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Childhood maltreatment, a form of early life stress, impacts an extraordinary number of children per year and has profound implications for mental health and other psychosocial outcomes. Abuse experienced as a child is well-linked to antisocial behavior such as aggression and misconduct and to alterations in neural structures and pathways. Many of the neural structures implicated in childhood maltreatment are crucial components of emotional regulatory brain networks, connected through pathways including the uncinate fasciculus, the cingulum bundle, and the fornix. Poorer emotion regulation has been pointed to as an underlying factor contributing to antisocial behavior; therefore, we seek to explore if alterations in neural emotion-regulatory pathways significantly account for a portion of the established link between childhood maltreatment and adult antisocial behavior. We explored these related questions in a subsample of the Pittsburgh Youth Study dataset – a unique, multi-decade longitudinal study of youth and family processes. Related to childhood maltreatment and violence in adulthood, we did not find significant associations between childhood maltreatment and violent adult criminal versatility within our sample. Connected to potential neural mediators, we also did not find any significant associations between childhood maltreatment and white matter integrity in the aforementioned tracts involved in emotion regulation. Further, we found no associations between white matter integrity in these tracts and violent criminal versatility. Potential explanations for this pattern of null findings, as well as implications for this field of research, are discussed. Further work is needed to continue to understand the associations between childhood abuse, the brain, and violent antisocial behavior in order to elucidate the downstream associations of early life stress on later behavior.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kahhale, Isabellaisabella.kahhale@pitt.eduISK170000-0002-0963-9738
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHanson, Jamie
Committee MemberByrd, Amy
Committee MemberShaw, Daniel
Date: 27 January 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 April 2021
Approval Date: 27 January 2023
Submission Date: 8 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 71
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: early life adversity; childhood maltreatment; antisocial behavior; violence
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2023 19:22
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2023 19:22

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  • Probing associations between structural brain connectivity, childhood maltreatment, and later antisocial behavior. (deposited 27 Jan 2023 19:22) [Currently Displayed]


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