Childhood maltreatment and response to novel face stimuli presented during functional magnetic resonance imaging in adults

Elliot Kale Edmiston, Jennifer Urbano Blackford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Facial cues contain important information for guiding social interactions, but not all humans are equally expert at face processing. A number of factors, both genetic and environmental, contribute to differences in face-processing ability. For example, both heritable individual differences in temperament and exposure to childhood maltreatment are associated with alterations in face processing ability and social function. Understanding the neural correlates of alterations in face-processing ability can provide insights into how genetic and environmental risk factors impair social functioning. We examined the association between childhood maltreatment and blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal as measured in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a group of young adults with an inhibited temperament. We hypothesized that childhood maltreatment exposure would correlate positively with BOLD signal in regions subserving face processing and novelty detection during viewing of novel compared to familiar faces. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) degree of exposure to childhood maltreatment was positively correlated with BOLD signal in the bilateral fusiform gyri and the left hippocampus. These fMRI findings suggest that young adults with an inhibited temperament and a history of maltreatment may be particularly vulnerable to neural alterations. These differences could be related to a heightened sensitivity to potential threat-for example, from new people-and may contribute to both the altered social functioning and increased incidence of anxiety disorders in these individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 30 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • FMRI
  • Face processing
  • Fusiform gyrus
  • Hippocampus
  • Inhibited temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Childhood maltreatment and response to novel face stimuli presented during functional magnetic resonance imaging in adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this