Infant maltreatment and brain changes

According to a study, rat pups exposed to maltreatment by mothers exhibited elevated stress-hormone levels as well as amygdala, hippocampus, and social behavior deficits; when the researchers gave pups a stress-hormone injection and exposed them to a nurturing mother, an anesthetized mother, or no mother, they found that the pups’ amygdala and behavioral deficits were recapitulated by an increase in stress only in the presence of the mother, regardless of maternal behavior, whereas hippocampus deficits occurred under high stress-hormone levels, regardless of maternal presence or behavior, suggesting specific effects of stress and social context in maltreatment-related brain and behavioral deficits.

Article #19-07170: “During infant maltreatment, stress targets hippocampus, but stress with mother present targets amygdala and social behavior,” by Charlis Raineki et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Regina M. Sullivan, New York University, NY; email:


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Regina M. Sullivan

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