Deficient inhibitory control as an outcome of childhood trauma

David F. Marshall, Alessandra M. Passarotti, Kelly A. Ryan, Masoud Kamali, Erika F.H. Saunders, Bethany Pester, Melvin G. McInnis, Scott A. Langenecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Childhood trauma has been linked to the development and severity of psychiatric disorders as well as deficits in cognitive functioning. This study aimed to investigate the performance of bipolar disorder (BD) patients and healthy controls (HC), with or without a history of childhood trauma, on a parametric Go/No-Go (PGNG) task measuring important aspects of executive functions, namely attention and inhibitory control. Two hundred and thirty-three individuals with BD and 90 HC completed diagnostic interview, childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ), symptom severity scales, and a PGNG task. Four comparison groups were created using a 1.0 standard deviation cut-off of the mean of the HC total CTQ score: BD-trauma, BD-normative, HC-trauma and HC-normative. We assessed interactions between diagnosis and trauma on Go/No-Go levels of interest by using a two-way multivariate analysis of covariance. Results showed a significant main effect of trauma on inhibitory control accuracy, as the trauma group exhibited significantly poorer accuracy on inhibition trials compared to the normative group. There was also a main effect of diagnosis on response time. These findings suggest that early trauma might adversely impact the development of cognitive systems and brain circuits that support inhibitory aspects of executive functioning in individuals with a history of trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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