Impact of Childhood Trauma on Executive Function in Adolescence—Mediating Functional Brain Networks and Prediction of High-Risk Drinking

Sarita Silveira, Rutvik Shah, Kate B. Nooner, Bonnie J. Nagel, Susan F. Tapert, Michael D. de Bellis, Jyoti Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Childhood trauma is known to impart risk for several adverse life outcomes. Yet, its impact during adolescent development is not well understood. We aimed to investigate the relationships among childhood trauma, functional brain connectivity, executive dysfunction (ED), and the development of high-risk drinking in adolescence. Methods: Data from the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (sample size = 392, 55% female) cohort were used. This included resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging at baseline, childhood trauma and ED self-reports, and detailed interviews on alcohol and substance use collected at baseline and at 4 annual follow-ups. We used longitudinal regression analyses to confirm the relationship between childhood trauma and ED, identified the mediating functional brain network hubs, and used these linkages to predict future high-risk drinking in adolescence. Results: Childhood trauma severity was significantly related to ED in all years. At baseline, distributed functional connectivity from hub regions in the bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, right anterior insula, right intraparietal sulcus, and bilateral pre- and postcentral gyri mediated the relationship between childhood trauma and ED. Furthermore, high-risk drinking in follow-up years 1–4 could be predicted with high accuracy from the trauma-affected functional brain networks that mediated ED at baseline, together with age, childhood trauma severity, and extent of ED. Discussion: Functional brain networks, particularly from hub regions important for cognitive and sensorimotor control, explain the relationship between childhood trauma and ED and are important for predicting future high-risk drinking. These findings are relevant for the prognosis of alcohol use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-509
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Adolescence
  • Binge drinking
  • Brain networks
  • Childhood trauma
  • Development
  • Executive function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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