Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study: Abused children stay highly attuned to anger

15.09.2005


Even the subtlest hints of anger or hostility in their environment sets physically abused children on prolonged ’alert’, even if a conflict has nothing to do with them.



The tendency to stay attentive of nearby discord is probably a natural form of self-preservation in children who routinely face aggression. But it may also explain why abused children are often so distracted at school, write researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the journal Child Development (September 14, 2005).

Led by Seth Pollak, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and pediatrics, the UW-Madison team tracked biological markers in 11 abused four and five-year olds who play a computer game in one room when suddenly a clearly audible, heated argument erupts between students next door.


Unbeknownst to the children, the "argument"- over an incomplete homework assignment - was actually a scripted dialogue performed by two actors.

Both abused and non-abused children initially displayed signs of emotional arousal-such as sweaty palms and decelerated heart rates--in reaction to the angry voices in the next room. Heart rates often decelerate prior to a "fight or flight" response, says Pollak, who is also a researcher at the UW-Madison Waisman Center for Human Development.

But though heart rates of non-abused subjects soon rose back to normal levels, heart rates in the abused group remained low-the abused children could not completely break their attention away from the next-door argument, even when it ended peacefully.

"What’s really interesting about this experiment is that the abused children were taking their attention resources and redeploying them into something that had nothing to do with the children at all," says Pollak. "That provides an important clue about why these children are having interpersonal problems."

The UW-Madison work builds on past experiments in which Pollak has aimed to understand the developmental mechanisms that may lead abuse victims to adopt unhealthy behaviors later in life, such as aggression, social anxiety and addictions. "Several psychologists had put forward some very sophisticated theories about the outcomes of child abuse but no one had offered any brain-based cognitive models to explain why those outcomes occur," Pollak says.

Consequently, in 1999, Pollak showed that electrical brain activity spikes dramatically when abused children view digital images of angry faces. That result was not too surprising, he says. "Obviously, abused children’s brains are doing exactly what they should be doing - they are learning to cope with their situation."

The latest work explores whether abused children react similarly to anger in real life situations, or in this case, experimental simulations of the real world. Pollak says the next step will be to discern exactly which neural systems and brain regions are most affected after physical abuse. "Knowing this specificity could help us figure out ways to eventually intervene in tailored ways."

Seth Pollak | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>