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The impact of childhood sexual abuse on adult cognitive functioning

26 July 2004


A growing body of literature has found relationships between trauma experienced in childhood, such as sexual abuse, and detrimental neurochemical, neuroanatomical, and cognitive changes. A paucity of research remains, however, examining whether sexual abuse trauma results in cognitive changes that last into adulthood. The present study compared adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse (n=28) to non-abused controls (n=19) on tests of auditory-verbal memory, working memory, and visuo-graphic memory, as well as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). Sexually abused subjects performed significantly worse on the Rey Complex Figure. Test (RCFT) immediate and delayed but no significant differences were found on other measures. The implications of these results are discussed in terms of the possible role of specific brain structures and emotional variables.


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