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Title: A mechanistic investigation of neuro-cognitive and experiential factors associated with psychiatric vulnerability following childhood maltreatment
Author: Gerin, Mattia Indi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 181X
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Childhood maltreatment is one of the most potent predictors of future psychopathology. While progress has been made in documenting a number of cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms that might underpin this association, investigations to date have focused on a limited number of domains. The primary aim of this thesis was, therefore, to advance and extend our understanding of the neurocognitive domains that may contribute to increased psychiatric vulnerability following childhood maltreatment. In the first empirical chapter (Chapter Two), using a model-based fMRI analytic approach and a probabilistic passive-avoidance task, we showed that childhood maltreatment is associated with recalibrations in the neurocomputational processes that underlie reinforcement-based decision-making. These are expected-value representation and prediction-error signalling to reward and punishment cues. In Chapter Three we showed that altered brain responses to threat (in the form of heighted amygdala reactivity) and an increased propensity to experience stressful life events predict future internalising symptoms among individuals with a history of maltreatment. In Chapter Four we found that experiencing maltreatment during childhood is associated with difficulties in imagining specific and detailed possible future scenarios ('Overgeneral Episodic Future Thinking'). In Chapter Five, a history of maltreatment was linked to deficits in interpersonal problem solving skills - this, in turn, contributed to the association between maltreatment and poor mental health. The findings of this thesis increase our understanding of how childhood maltreatment impacts neurobiological, cognitive and social functioning in ways that may potentiate subsequent risk of psychopathology. In the longer term, it is hoped that these findings will contribute to the development of screening tools and novel preventative clinical approaches that could foster a resilient outcome for those maltreated individuals at greatest psychiatric vulnerability.
Supervisor: McCrory, E. J. ; Viding, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available