Childhood maltreatment (i.e., physical, sexual or emotional abuse by parents, peers or siblings, physical and emotional neglect) has an enormous impact on risk for substance abuse and dependence. The Adverse Childhood Experience Study reported that exposure to maltreatment-related adversity accounted for 64% of the population attributable risk for substance abuse. Understanding this association may be crucial to our efforts to prevent, preempt or treat drug abuse. During the previous funding period we conducted a series of studies to better understand the association between childhood maltreatment and substance use. We found in cross-sectional studies that exposure to physical maltreatment was a more significant risk factor for high levels of drug and alcohol use than emotional maltreatment, and that physical maltreatment (but not emotional maltreatment) was associated with marked alterations in T2-relaxation time (an indirect measures of cerebral blood volume assessed by MRI) in major components of the ascending dopamine system. T2-relaxation time in two components (dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex) correlated with degree of drug and alcohol use. Further we found a strong statistical relationship between the size of the first lobule (lingula) of the cerebellar vermis in physically maltreated subjects and degree of substance use. We also found that substance use by maltreated individuals spiked at 20-21 years of age. The key aims of the proposed study are to test in a prospective study whether T2-relaxation time in dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex, and large lingula size can predict degree of drug and alcohol use by maltreated individuals. Moreover, we will test the hypothesis that type and timing of exposure to maltreatment matters, and that there are sensitive periods when exposure to specific types of maltreatment are most likely to effect the development of these brain regions? and to increase risk for drug abuse. This information will shed new light on our understanding of the relationship between maltreatment and drug abuse by examining the phenomenon from a developmental neuroscience perspective. These studies may provide the critical insights necessary to design programs to protect children during their most vulnerable periods, and to develop preemptive strategies to aid exposed individuals before their vulnerability becomes manifest.

Public Health Relevance

Childhood maltreatment is a leading risk factor for drug abuse. We will study the problem from a developmental neuroscience perspective, and test the hypothesis that maltreatment during sensitive periods affects the development of dopamine system and cerebellum, and that alterations in these regions can predict risk for high levels of drug use in a prospective longitudinal study.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Risk, Prevention and Intervention for Addictions Study Section (RPIA)
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Gordon, Harold
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Mclean Hospital
United States
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Teicher, Martin H; Anderson, Carl M; Ohashi, Kyoko et al. (2018) Differential effects of childhood neglect and abuse during sensitive exposure periods on male and female hippocampus. Neuroimage 169:443-452
Teicher, Martin H (2018) Childhood trauma and the enduring consequences of forcibly separating children from parents at the United States border. BMC Med 16:146
Ohashi, Kyoko; Anderson, Carl M; Bolger, Elizabeth A et al. (2018) Susceptibility or Resilience to Maltreatment Can Be Explained by Specific Differences in Brain Network Architecture. Biol Psychiatry :
Ohashi, Kyoko; Anderson, Carl M; Bolger, Elizabeth A et al. (2017) Childhood maltreatment is associated with alteration in global network fiber-tract architecture independent of history of depression and anxiety. Neuroimage 150:50-59
Teicher, Martin H; Samson, Jacqueline A (2016) Annual Research Review: Enduring neurobiological effects of childhood abuse and neglect. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 57:241-66
Teicher, Martin H; Ohashi, Kyoko; Lowen, Steven B et al. (2015) Mood dysregulation and affective instability in emerging adults with childhood maltreatment: An ecological momentary assessment study. J Psychiatr Res 70:1-8
Schalinski, Inga; Teicher, Martin H (2015) Type and timing of childhood maltreatment and severity of shutdown dissociation in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder. PLoS One 10:e0127151
Teicher, Martin H; Parigger, Angelika (2015) The 'Maltreatment and Abuse Chronology of Exposure' (MACE) scale for the retrospective assessment of abuse and neglect during development. PLoS One 10:e0117423
Khan, Alaptagin; McCormack, Hannah C; Bolger, Elizabeth A et al. (2015) Childhood Maltreatment, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation: Critical Importance of Parental and Peer Emotional Abuse during Developmental Sensitive Periods in Males and Females. Front Psychiatry 6:42
Pechtel, Pia; Lyons-Ruth, Karlen; Anderson, Carl M et al. (2014) Sensitive periods of amygdala development: the role of maltreatment in preadolescence. Neuroimage 97:236-44

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