NCBI ROFL: Belligerent berating builds bigger baby brains!

By ncbi rofl | July 28, 2010 7:00 pm

homer_choke_bartExposure to parental verbal abuse is associated with increased gray matter volume in superior temporal gyrus.

“OBJECTIVE: Exposure to parental verbal aggression (PVA) during childhood increases risk for the development of psychopathology, particularly mood and anxiety disorders. Other forms of childhood abuse have been found to be associated with alterations in brain structure. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether exposure to PVA was associated with discernible effects on brain morphology… …RESULTS: Gray matter volume (GMV) was increased by 14.1% in the left superior temporal gyrus (STG, BA 22) (P=0.004, corrected cluster level). GMV in this cluster was associated most strongly with levels of maternal (ss=0.544, P<0.0001) and paternal (ss=0.300, P<0.02) verbal aggression and inversely associated with parental education (ss=-0.577, P<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Previous studies have demonstrated an increase in STG GMV in children with abuse histories, and found a reduction in fractional anisotropy in the arcuate fasciculus connecting Wernicke’s and frontal areas in young adults exposed to PVA. These findings and the present results suggest that the development of auditory association cortex involved in language processing may be affected by exposure to early stress and/or emotionally abusive language.”


Thanks to Robert for today’s ROFL!

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WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!

  • Jason G. Goldman

    I generally love NCBI ROFL and its often a great source of papers that can be blogged. But, it is not clear to me what is ROFL about this. In your FAQ, you state that you post abstracts of “real scientific articles with funny subjects.” I fail to see what is funny about parental verbal abuse.

  • wendy

    Very informative…but why is this funny?

  • Scicurious

    I have to agree with Jason, I think this is over the line. The alliteration is funny, the subject matter is definitely not.

  • ncbi rofl

    Dear Readers,
    In addition to funny articles, we often feature research that that is strange and/or ridiculous. We thought this abstract fell in that category (who would think to look for a correlation between getting yelled at as a child and brain size?). Obviously there is nothing funny about child abuse, and we are sorry our readers thought we were suggesting otherwise.

  • Tanya McPositron

    It’s not funny-haha; it IS funny-weird, and isn’t that why we all read this blog…for the Weird?

  • Jojo

    Maybe if it is a family of clowns.

  • eli

    it’s the white matter in the brain that makes the connections b/w parts of the brain, helps w/ the speed of connections up there, etc. (Okay, I know that was like a super non-technical way of describing it, but it’s true.) I suspect that further research will show that this increase in the gray matter is not helpful…perhaps even detrimental to those children. Definitely not a laughing matter. It is interesting though…. future studies could probably even find some way to use this as a way to tell if a child was being verbally abused at home. Food for thought.

  • Mike Lisieski

    “Exposure to parental verbal aggression (PVA) during childhood increases risk for the development of psychopathology, particularly mood and anxiety disorders.”

    Giving children lifelong psychiatric disorders is hilarious, right?

  • Craig

    It’s not even like it’s ‘odd’ research, never mind funny. The authors mention how verbal emotional abuse hasn’t been considered to be a traumatic event, and they demonstrate that it is, it has long term pschiatric complications, and it might have a physical basis. It’s not “strange and/or ridiculous”. NCBI ROFL FAIL on this one.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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