The Neuropsychological and Neuroendocrine Effects of Childhood Trauma: Implications for Treatment


Childhood traumatic exposure is relatively common, with up to 70% of children experiencing a traumatic event by adulthood. Childhood trauma exposure is related to numerous adverse psychological difficulties, physical health conditions, poorer cognitive performance, and brain abnormalities. Trauma-related brain changes in structure and function are likely driven underlying biological changes. Further, changes in children’s neurobiology and brain functioning may impact treatment. This session will review the current literature regarding the effects of childhood trauma on children’s brain functioning and biological systems and how these alterations may influence treatment. Novel treatment mechanisms and interventions will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify how trauma may result in changes in children’s brain functioning and biological systems
  • Describe how these outcomes may influence treatment
  • Recognize novel techniques to mitigate the impact of trauma among children

Slides in PDF Format



Dr. Wamser-Nanney joined the MIMH in the summer of 2015. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, with expertise in child traumatic stress and trauma-focused interventions. Her prior research has focused on complex trauma, or chronic interpersonal trauma that begins early in life and trauma-focused treatments for children. Dr. Wamser-Nanney completed her pre-doctoral internship at Tulane Health Sciences Center (Early Mental Health Track) where she worked with maltreating caregivers and their very young children as part of the Tulane Infant Team. She completed her postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Michigan, Trauma and Grief Center for Youth (TAG Center) where she focused on trauma and grief-focused assessments and interventions for children and their caregivers. Dr. Wamser-Nanney has been trained in several trauma-focused interventions with children and adults. More recently, she is interested in investigating the impact of childhood trauma on neuropsychological functioning and brain integrity using neuroimaging.

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