Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Early Life Stress and the Brain – Implications for Psychiatry

Presented by:
Amanda Elton, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry

Faculty Disclosure:

Dr. Elton has disclosed that she has no relevant financial relationships. No one else in a position to control content has any financial relationships to disclose. Conflict of interest information for the CME Advisory Committee members can be found on the following website: All relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Release Date: January 19, 2024
Expiration Date:  January 18, 2026

Target Audience: All physicians

Learning Objectives:

As a result of participation in this activity, participants should be able to:

  1. Describe the influence of early life stress on risk for psychiatric and other health outcomes.
  2. Identify neurocognitive processes affected by early life stress.
  3. Discuss the effects of stress in childhood and adolescence on brain development.
  4. Recognize the contributions of brain mechanisms of resilience to mitigating effects of early life stress.

Requirements for successful completion: Certificates are awarded upon successful completion (80% proficiency) of the post-test.

Accreditation: The University of Florida College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit: The University of Florida College of Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Resource(s) for further study:

  1. Swedo EA, Aslam MV, Dahlberg LL, Niolon PH, Guinn AS, Simon TR, Mercy JA. Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences Among U.S. Adults – Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2011 – 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 30, 2023. 72(26);707-715.
  2. Pechtel, P. & Pizzagalli, D. A. Effects of Early Life Stress on Cognitive and Affective Function: An Integrated Review of Human Literature. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 214, 55-70 (2011).
  3. McLaughlin, K. A. et al. Widespread reductions in cortical thickness following severe early-life deprivation: a neurodevelopmental pathway to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biol Psychiatry 76, 629-638 (2014).
  4. Teicher, M. H., Samson, J. A., Anderson, C. M. & Ohashi, K. The effects of childhood maltreatment on brain structure, function and connectivity. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 17, 652-666 (2016).
  5. Kaiser, R. H. et al. Childhood stress, grown-up brain networks: corticolimbic correlates of threat-related early life stress and adult stress response. Psychological Medicine 48, 1157-1166 (2018).
  6. Taylor, S. E. Mechanisms linking early life stress to adult health outcomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107, 8507-8512 (2010).
  7. Felitti, V. J. et al. Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 14, 245-258 (1998). 10.1016/s0749-3797(98)00017-8
  8. Dube, S. R. et al. Adverse childhood experiences and personal alcohol abuse as an adult. Addict Behav. 2002 Sep-Oct;27(5):713-25.  doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(01)00204-0.
  9. Lebel et al. Microstructural maturation of the human brain from childhood to adulthood. NeuroImage. 40(3):2008, 1044-1055.
  10. Asato et al. White Matter Development in Adolescence: A DTI Study. Cerebral Cortex, 20(9):2010, 2122-2131.
  11. Van Dijk KRA et al. Intrinsic Functional Connectivity As a Tool For Human Connectomics: Theory, Properties, and Optimization. Journal of Neurophysiology. 103(1):2010, 297-321.
  12. Almas, A. N., Degnan, K. A., Nelson, C. A., Zeanah, C. H., & Fox, N. A. (2016). IQ at age 12 following a history of institutional care: Findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. Developmental Psychology, 52(11), 1858–1866.
  13. Dillon DG, Holmes AJ, Birk JL, Brooks N, Lyons-Ruth K, Pizzagalli DA (2009) Childhood adversity is associated with left basal ganglia dysfunction during reward anticipation in adulthood. Biol Psychiatry 66:206–213
  14. Saarinen A, et al. Early Adversity and Emotion Processing From Faces: A Meta-analysis on Behavioral and Neurophysiological Responses. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. 6(7): 2021:692-705.
  15. Mueller SC, et al. Early-life stress is associated with impairment in cognitive control in adolescence: An fMRI study. Neuropsychologia. 48(10):2010, 3037-3044.
  16. Elton A, et al. Childhood maltreatment is associated with a sex-dependent functional reorganization of a brain inhibitory control network. 24 April 2013.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Nancy Boyd at (352) 594-4298 or at