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Emotional maltreatment and neglect impact neural activation upon exclusion in early and mid-adolescence: An event-related fMRI study
Development and Psychopathology  (IF4.151),  Pub Date : 2022-02-02, DOI: 10.1017/s0954579421001681
Charlotte C. Schulz, Kai von Klitzing, Lorenz Deserno, Margaret A. Sheridan, Michael J. Crowley, Margerete J. S. Schoett, Ferdinand Hoffmann, Arno Villringer, Pascal Vrtička, Lars O. White

Child maltreatment gives rise to atypical patterns of social functioning with peers which might be particularly pronounced in early adolescence when peer influence typically peaks. Yet, few neuroimaging studies in adolescents use peer interaction paradigms to parse neural correlates of distinct maltreatment exposures. This fMRI study examines effects of abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment (EM) among 98 youth (n = 58 maltreated; n = 40 matched controls) using an event-related Cyberball paradigm affording assessment of both social exclusion and inclusion across early and mid-adolescence (≤13.5 years, n = 50; >13.5 years, n = 48). Younger adolescents showed increased activation to social exclusion versus inclusion in regions implicated in mentalizing (e.g., superior temporal gyrus). Individual exposure-specific analyses suggested that neglect and EM coincided with less reduction of activation to social exclusion relative to inclusion in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/pre-supplementary motor area (dACC/pre-SMA) among younger versus older adolescents. Integrative follow-up analyses showed that EM accounted for this dACC/pre-SMA activation pattern over and above other exposures. Moreover, age-independent results within respective exposure groups revealed that greater magnitude of neglect predicted blunted exclusion-related activity in the parahippocampal gyrus, while EM predicted increased activation to social exclusion in the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex.