The psychobiology of neglect.
Child neglect, the most prevalent form of child maltreatment, is associated with adverse psychological and educational outcomes. It is hypothesized that these outcomes may be caused by adverse brain development. However, there are very few published cross-sectional studies and no prospective studies that examine the neurodevelopmental consequences of neglect. In this article, the author comprehensively outlines the issues involved in the psychobiological research of child neglect. Pre-clinical and clinical studies will be reviewed. Throughout the article, suggestions for future research opportunities and novel ways to address methodological difficulties inherent in this field of study are offered. The results of recent neuroimaging studies of maltreated children may provide a basis for understanding the early effects of neglect on childhood brain development. The author is comprehensively examining these issues as part of the Federal Child Neglect Consortium.
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