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Keywords:

  • early-life stress;
  • childhood abuse;
  • neurobiology;
  • treatment

Objective

This article provides an overview of research on the neurobiological correlates of childhood adversity and a selective review of treatment implications.

Method

Findings from a broad array of human and animal studies of early adversity were reviewed.

Results

Topics reviewed include neuroendocrine, neurotrophic, neuroimaging, and cognitive effects of adversity, as well as genetic and epigenetic influences. Effects of early-life stress on treatment outcome are considered, and development of treatments designed to address the neurobiological abnormalities is discussed.

Conclusion

Early adversity is associated with abnormalities of several neurobiological systems that are implicated in the development of psychopathology and other medical conditions. Early-life stress negatively impacts treatment outcome, and individuals may require treatments that are specific to this condition.