One of the 10 Discoveries of the Year selected by Quebec Science magazine for 2013 was led by a Douglas researcher. Back in June, Jens Pruessner, Director of the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging and Associate Professor at the Douglas Institute, published a study on the marks left on the brain by childhood abuse.

Different forms of early childhood trauma can increase the risk for mental illness in adulthood. Jens Pruessner, along with scientists from Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, have discovered a neural basis for this association. Their study shows that sexually abused and emotionally maltreated children exhibit changes in the architecture of their brain that reflect the nature of the maltreatment. The results showed a correlation between specific forms of maltreatment and thinning of the cortex in precisely the regions of the brain that are involved in the perception or processing of the stimuli associated with the abuse.

Read Quebec Science selection for 2013 -and vote for your top choice.