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Child abuse disrupts brain, may cause depression: study

Published on Aug 1, 2012 9:44 PM

PARIS (AFP) - Children who suffer or witness physical abuse undergo changes to their brain structure that may predispose them to depression and substance abuse later in life, a study said on Wednesday.

The finding holds promise for early detection and pre-emptive counselling already in adolescence - a crucial phase of physical and emotional development and brain maturation, say researchers in the United States.

Using a specialised MRI scanning technique, "we identified microstructural disruption at certain locations of the white matter tracts of adolescents who experienced maltreatment during childhood," researcher Hao Huang told AFP.

White matter tracts or nerve fibres, comparable to computer network cables, connect the grey matter in the brain's different processing regions - transmitting signals to ensure they "talk" with each other efficiently.

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