Childhood Maltreatment: Altered Network Centrality of Cingulate, Precuneus, Temporal Pole and Insula
Background-Childhood abuse is a major risk factor for psychopathology. Previous studies have identified brain differences in maltreated individuals but have not focused on potential differences in network architecture. Methods-High-resolution T1-weighted MRI scans were obtained from 265 unmedicated, righthanded 18-25-year-olds who were classified as maltreated (n=142, 55M/87F) or non-maltreated (n=123, 46M/77F) based on extensive interviews. Cortical thickness was assessed in 112 cortical
... s (nodes) and inter-regional partial correlations across subjects were calculated to derive the lowest equivalent cost single-cluster group networks. Permutation tests were used to ascertain whether maltreatment was associated with significant alterations in key centrality measures of these regions and membership in the highly interconnected 'rich club'. Results-Marked differences in centrality (connectedness, 'importance') were observed in a handful of cortical regions. Left anterior cingulate had the second highest number of connections (degree centrality) and was a component of the 'rich club' in the control network but ranked low in connectedness (106 th of 112 nodes) in the network derived from maltreated-subjects (p<0.01). Conversely, right precuneus and right anterior insula ranked first and 15 th in degree centrality in the maltreated network versus 90 th (p=0.01) and 105 th (p<0.03) in the control network. Conclusions-Maltreatment was associated with decreased centrality in regions involved in emotional regulation and ability to accurately attribute thoughts or intentions to others and with enhanced centrality in regions involved in internal emotional perception, self-referential thinking and self-awareness. This may provide a potential mechanism for how maltreatment increases risk for psychopathology.