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 from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

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: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>