Traumatic childhood leads to worse impulse control during adulthood

New York, Jan 21 (IANS) The scar of childhood abuse and neglect affects adults’ brain, especially in their impulse to control, warns a new study.

The impact of a traumatic childhood in adults affects their ability to process and act on information both quickly and accurately, the findings revealed.

The kind of quick “go or don’t go” thinking which is crucial to everyday situations like driving or when reacting to an emergency, appears to be less accurate and more impulsive in adults who have suffered physical, emotional or sexual trauma in their early years, the study showed.

“Past research has looked at mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, and even at memory function in people with childhood trauma, but few have looked at inhibitory control, or what some people call impulse control,” said lead author David Marshall from University of Michigan in the US.

The study ventured to find if adults with bipolar disorder had more impulsive and inaccurate responses on a quick task than others without the condition. But the researchers found no such differences between the two groups.

Those with bipolar disorder and a history of trauma performed significantly worse on the “Go/No-Go” test, than those with bipolar alone. But those without bipolar disorder who had a history of trauma performed just as poorly, the researchers revealed.

The team analyzed more than 320 people based on the data from the Heinz C. Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder.

The participants were given a standard timed tests called “Go/No-Go” test that measures how well a person can stop himself or herself from reacting incorrectly to rapid prompts that sometimes require a “go” response and sometime require a person to hold back the impulse to respond (“no-go”).

Among the participants, 134 reported a history of childhood trauma. This included physical abuse or neglect, emotional abuse or neglect, and sexual abuse, the findings showed.

Adults who suffered trauma as children may benefit from talk therapy or other options to combat the effects, the researchers suggested.

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