Effects of Maltreatment on Brain and Memory

[Added March 2002]
This is a report on the effect of child abuse on their brain development: it gives some
glimpses on how the memory works in normal people. For example :
our memories have ,for survival purposes , all an emotional content. This
is regulated by the limbic system. For example, the amygdala (part of this system) is responsible to filter and interpret incoming sensory information in
emotional terms (it is a snake or a stick?) to help initiate the appropriate
response early enough(the “rational” processing of the same information comes too late for survival).

Persistent stress produces a smaller amygdala and this is connected to
depression, hostility and irritability.

Hippocampus (also part of limbic system) is important in determining
what information will be stored in long term memory: it seems that the
left part of this organ has smaller size as result of overexcitation of
the limbic system. This points to the possibility that there is a reduced
communication right-left hemisphere. In fact the organ responsible for this
communication, the corpus callosum, has a reduced size. The left hemisphere
is specialized in language whereas the right hemisphere is specialized in
spatial information and emotions.Is this reduced communication and increased
importance of right-hemisphere connected to the fact that disturbing memories
are stored in the right hemisphere? Can this be the cause of depression?