Bernet Elzinga, born in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in 1970. Ph.D. from VU University Amsterdam. Professor of Stress related Psychopathology at Leiden University.
Fellow (1 September 2013 – 31 January 2014)
GENES X ENVIRONMENT INTERACTIONS IN THE DEVELOPING BRAIN
Research Question: How are brain processes related to social bonding affected by history of (emotional) maltreatment in childhood?
My project will focus on how adverse experiences early in life, such as childhood (emotional) abuse and neglect can impact affective interactions later in life, particularly in the context of intimate relations. Chronic exposure to childhood (emotional) abuse can lead to enduring changes in the brain, associated with an increased sensitivity to stressful interpersonal contexts. It is also known that adult attachment style (i.e., secure vs insecure attachment) is influenced by affective interaction patterns with the parents in childhood. In this project, I will bring together these two lines of research, and further explore how a history of childhood abuse affects brain processing during affective interactions, for example during interactions with an intimate partner, and how this can best be investigated.
1) Van Harmelen, A.L., van Tol, M.J., Demenescu L.R., van der Wee N.J.A., Veltman D.J., Aleman A., Spinhoven P., Penninx B.W.J.H. & Elzinga, B.M (2013). Enhanced Amygdala reactivity during processing of emotional faces in individuals reporting childhood emotional maltreatment. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 8, 362-369.
2) Van Harmelen, A.L., van Tol, M-J, van der Wee, N., Veltman, D.J., Spinhoven, Ph., Penninx, B.W.J.H. & Elzinga, B.M. (2010). Childhood emotional abuse is associated with reduced Medial Prefrontal Cortex volume. Biological Psychiatry, 68, 832–838.
3) Krause-Utz A, Oei, N.Y.L., Niedtfeld, I., Bohus, M., Spinhoven, P., Schmahl, C., Elzinga, B.M. (2012). Neural Influence of emotional distraction on working memory performance in borderline personality disorder. Psychological Medicine 42, 2181-92.