Niki Hosseini-Kamkar PhD Postdoc, McGill University

McGill University Analysis Finds Early Life Adversity May Predispose to Exaggerated Emotional Responses as Adults Interview with:

Niki Hosseini-Kamkar PhDPostdoc, McGill University

Dr. Hosseini-Kamkar

Niki Hosseini-Kamkar PhD
Postdoc, McGill University What is the background for this study?

Response: Our primary question was: Do adults with a history of childhood trauma have altered
brain responses to psychological challenges? Previous evidence indicated that this can
occur in laboratory animals, but it has been unclear whether it occurs in humans. What are the main findings?

Response:  By integrating the results from 83 previous brain imaging studies, we were able to
provide what is arguably the clearest evidence to date that adults who have been
exposed to early life trauma have different brain responses to psychological challenges.
This includes exaggerated responses in a region that processes emotionally intense
information (the amygdala), and reduced responses in a region that helps people
regulate emotions and associated behaviors (the frontal cortex). What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These findings might explain why adults who experienced childhood trauma experience
intense emotional responses to stress. Once these responses begin, coping is extremely
difficult. This could express itself as heightened threat reactivity and susceptibility to
mental health problems. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: Many questions remain. For children who are exposed to traumas, what are the best
interventions, how soon do they need to be applied, and what factors might aggravate
or protect against the development of problems? Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: The results highlight the need to protect children from trauma. If trauma does occur,
help should be provided early, potentially decreasing the development of long-lasting
effects. The importance of these findings is underscored by current events in the Middle
East where war is traumatizing new generations of children, both Israeli and Palestinian.


Hosseini-Kamkar NVarvani Farahani MNikolic M, et al. Adverse Life Experiences and Brain FunctionA Meta-Analysis of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(11):e2340018. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.40018

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Last Updated on November 6, 2023 by Marie Benz