The studies included 56 children or adolescents and 275 adults with a history of childhood abuse, as well as 56 children and 306 adults who had not been exposed to childhood maltreatment.
Using a 3D meta-analytical neuroimaging technique created by Radua – called “signed differential mapping” – the team was able to determine the volumes of gray matter in each individual.
They found that the individuals who had been exposed to childhood maltreatment had much smaller volumes of gray matter in certain brain areas, compared with those who had no history of child abuse.
In detail, those who had a history of child abuse had reduced gray matter in their the right orbitofrontal/superior temporal gyrus, amygdala, the parahippocampal and middle temporal gyri and the left inferior frontal and post central gyri.
The team notes that the most consistent reduction of gray matter volume among those exposed to child abuse was in the ventrolateral prefrontal and limbic-temporal regions – areas linked to cognitive control.