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URPP Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning (AdaBD)

The effect of early childhood and in-utero trauma on brain development, educational outcomes, and professional attainment

Large-scale evidence from the UK Biobank

Research project

To this day, we lack a consensus on the consequences of traumatic events in early childhood and in utero, as well as on how specific trauma types manifest in various clinical phenotypes including developmental disorders. Previous research suggests that Early Childhood Trauma (ECT) can lead to lasting detrimental effects on neural development and to generalized learning problems, which persist through childhood and beyond. However, it is still not fully understood how ECT influences brain development, and how the resulting neuroanatomic changes translate into long-term problems typically associated with ECT.

In this project, we aim to identify the mechanistic links between ECT, neural development, and long-term educational / professional attainment.  In collaboration with the HDDA Platform, we are analyzing genetic, neural and behavioral data obtained in a prospective epidemiological study of 500,000 individuals (UKBiobank).

The results from this project should also be relevant for medical professionals dealing with traumatized individuals, should help to develop better strategies for mitigating adverse consequences of ECT, and inform policy makers about the consequences of no-action in this regard.

Research groups

Postdoc: Gökhan Aydogan

Principal investigators: Christian Ruff, Valerio Mante, Sepp Kollmorgen

Platforms: HDDA