Demographic, maltreatment, and neurobiological correlates of PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents

Michael D. De Bellis, Stephen R. Hooper, Donald P. Woolley, Chad E. Shenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


ObjectiveTo examine the relationships of demographic, maltreatment, neurostructural and neuropsychological measures with total posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.MethodsParticipants included 216 children with maltreatment histories (N = 49), maltreatment and PTSD (N = 49), or no maltreatment (N = 118). Participants received diagnostic interviews, brain imaging, and neuropsychological evaluations.ResultsWe examined a hierarchical regression model comprised of independent variables including demographics, trauma and maltreatment-related variables, and hippocampal volumes and neuropsychological measures to model PTSD symptoms. Important independent contributors to this model were SES, and General Maltreatment and Sexual Abuse Factors. Although hippocampal volumes were not significant, Visual Memory was a significant contributor to this model.ConclusionsSimilar to adult PTSD, pediatric PTSD symptoms are associated with lower Visual Memory performance. It is an important correlate of PTSD beyond established predictors of PTSD symptoms. These results support models of developmental traumatology and suggest that treatments which enhance visual memory may decrease symptoms of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-577
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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