Simply put, our initial guiding hypothesis was that CA is a substantial stressor that serves as an antecedent to a succession of developmental brain modifications and associated behavioral dysfunction. Subsequently, this stance was held and expressed by other investigators (Bremner, 1999; Nelson & Carver, 1998; Penza, Heim, & Nemeroff, 2003). Our recent theorizing, however, expands upon this original position and couches the consequences of CA in an evolutionary framework that also incorporates the types of sensory and perceptual stimulation that are experienced as well as windows of sensitivity (Teicher, 2002; Teicher et al., 2003; Teicher, Tomoda, et al., 2006). The following postulates encapsulate our current thinking:
1. The brain goes through one or more sensitive periods in postnatal life when exposure to high levels of stress hormones selects for an alternative pathway of neurodevelopment.
2. The ensuing developmental trajectory is an adaptive one.
3. Exposure to corticosteroids is a keystone element in organizing the brain to develop in this manner.
4. Disparate brain systems are affected by different forms of abuse (e.g., sexual, physical, verbal), particularly the primary and secondary sensory systems that may be especially involved in perceiving or recalling the trauma.
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