Background: Childhood trauma is a risk factor for psychosis. Deficits in response inhibition are common to psychosis and trauma-exposed populations, and associated brain functions may be affected by trauma exposure in psychotic disorders. We aimed to identify the influence of trauma-exposure on brain activation and functional connectivity during a response inhibition task.
Methods: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain function within regions-of-interest [left and right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, right supplementary motor area, right inferior parietal lobule and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex], during the performance of a Go/No-Go Flanker task, in 112 clinical cases with psychotic disorders and 53 healthy controls (HCs). Among the participants, 71 clinical cases and 21 HCs reported significant levels of childhood trauma exposure, while 41 clinical cases and 32 HCs did not.
Results: In the absence of effects on response inhibition performance, childhood trauma exposure was associated with increased activation in the left IFG, and increased connectivity between the left IFG seed region and the cerebellum and calcarine sulcus, in both cases and healthy individuals. There was no main effect of psychosis, and no trauma-by-psychosis interaction for any other region-of-interest. Within the clinical sample, the effects of trauma-exposure on the left IFG activation were mediated by symptom severity.
Conclusions: Trauma-related increases in activation of the left IFG were not associated with performance differences, or dependent on clinical diagnostic status; increased IFG functionality may represent a compensatory (overactivation) mechanism required to exert adequate inhibitory control of the motor response.
- childhood trauma
- Go/No-Go Flanker task