Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ace Study Revealed Pt. 2

Stefan Molyneaux explains how the neurobiology of the brain is adversely affected by childhood abuse, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and even having an insecure attachment to one's mother. There is a clear correlation and an actual biological cause and effect between early trauma and behavior later in life.

The Amygdala (Fear Center) may be overreactive while the prefrontal cortex (executive center, decision making, morals, sense of self) is underdeveloped.

Interesting that ACEs overstimulate the amygdala- the Fear Center of the brain. One of the common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics is fear of authority. In experiments, when the amygdala was stimulated with an electrical current, the subjects reported a sense of being reprimanded by an authority.

Note the close parallels between other effects of abuse and ACA behavior including:

Difficulty regulating emotion (over-react to changes over which they have no control)

Lack of cause and effect thinking (lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternate behaviors or possible consequences)

Inability to articulate our own emotions (we learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults)


Stressful, traumatizing experiences cause chronic elevated levels of neuroendocrine hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause damage leading to difficulty learning, memory impairment, depression, insomnia, PTSD and ADD. In more severe cases it can increase the risk of criminal behavior.

The good news is that effective psychotherapy can help. Relapse for MDD (major depressive disorder) was 76% for those treated with antidepressant medication vs. just 31% for those who received therapy.

Physical exercise can also have a very beneficial effect on memory, cognition and improves learning and intelligence scores. Exercise acts as an antidepressant and slows the decline of memory and brain atrophy in aging humans.

The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. Led by Co-principal Investigators Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, and Vincent J. Felitti, MD.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children