Neurobiological Perspectives

In the first part, "Neurobiological Perspectives," the authors present state-of-the-art research on the consequences for memory and memory development of the neurobiological changes that accompany childhood stress, trauma, and maltreatment. Specifically, in the first chapter, Bremner examines the interaction between brain development, trauma onset, memory, and the neurobiological consequences of trauma. He proposes a model of how stress-induced changes in brain systems involved in stress and memory mediate changes in traumatic memories in patients with childhood abuse-related mental disorders. The second chapter in this section is by Navalta, Tomoda, and Teicher. These authors take on the challenge of reviewing what is known about the clinical neuroscience of child abuse and providing new findings on the neuroanatomical effects of child abuse and how they are related to changes in memory processes. They conclude that there exists a growing body of evidence suggesting that memory deficits do exist for individuals with abuse histories and that these deficiencies are related to neuroanatomical anomalies. Our third chapter in this section, by Cicchetti and Curtis, uses event-related potentials (ERPs) to study memory functioning in infants and children in normal populations and in children who have experienced maltreatment. The authors suggest how future research using ERPs and memory in samples of maltreated and nonmaltreated infants and children can inform the design and implementation of randomized prevention and intervention trials with children who have experienced maltreatment. Together, the three chapters in this part provide the reader with an up-to-date picture of the neurobiological consequences of stress and trauma and their impact on the development of children's memory. As well, these chapters alert us to the many complexities of studying changes in neurobiological functioning as a consequence of stress, particularly in populations in which many of the relevant neural structures and systems are still developing. Despite these complexities, there is an emerging consensus concerning the changes that occur due to stress and maltreatment on memory-related neurobiological systems.

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