Childhood trauma is associated with smaller gray matter volume, similar to the pattern seen in psychotic disorders. We explored the relationship between childhood abuse, psychosis, and brain volume in a group of 60 individuals with a psychotic disorder and 26 healthy control subjects. We used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to quantify gray and white matter volume and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) to measure childhood abuse. Within the psychotic disorder group, total gray matter volume was inversely correlated with the severity of childhood sexual abuse (r=-.34, p=.008), but not the other types of abuse. When the 24 patients with sexual abuse were compared with demographically matched samples of 23 patients without sexual abuse and 26 control subjects, only patients with a history of sexual abuse had reduced total gray matter volume (t(48)=2.3, p=.03; Cohen's d=.63). Voxel-based analysis revealed a cluster in the prefrontal cortex where volume was negatively correlated with sexual abuse severity. Voxel based comparison of the three matched groups revealed a similar pattern of results, with widespread reductions in psychosis patients with sexual abuse relative to controls that were not found in psychosis patients without sexual abuse. These findings indicate that some of the variance of gray matter volume in psychotic disorders can be explained by a history of sexual abuse.
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