A multi-modal assessment of memory and attention in childhood physical and sexual abuse survivors
Research continues to explore the cognitive processing of those who develop PTSD after trauma. Studies using modified Stroop paradigms have established that individuals with PTSD demonstrate attentional bias for information related to rape, combat, and sexual abuse traumas. Research on incidental recollections of abuse are burgeoning. This study explored the nature of the relationships between explicit recollection of childhood physical and sexual abuse and (1) attentional bias for trauma-related words and (2) incidental recollection of trauma-related words. Fifty-seven criminal offenders with both major psychiatric and substance abuse diagnoses were administered a modified Stroop using physical abuse words, a validated retrospective report for childhood maltreatment (CTQ), and measures of their psychiatric diagnoses (DIS-IV) and symptoms (PCL-C). Regression analyses demonstrated that the relationship between explicit recall of physical abuse (CTQ) and attentional bias for physical abuse words (Stroop) was moderated by PTSD symptom severity [R2 changed from .031 to. 139; F (1, 40) = 4.997, p = .03]. In participants with higher PTSD symptoms, greater self-reported physical abuse was associated with greater attentional bias for Physical Abuse words; in participants with lower PTSD symptoms, greater self-reported physical abuse was associated with less attentional bias. This hypothesis was not supported for sexual abuse items. A second hypothesis that greater explicit recollection of childhood abuse would correspond to greater accuracy in incidental demonstration of memory for childhood abuse and that this relationship would be stronger for those participants with PTSD was unsupported. This study extends existing research findings on the modified Stroop to physical abuse and suggests that PTSD symptoms intervene in the cognitive processing of trauma-related information.
Baxt, Chiara, "A multi-modal assessment of memory and attention in childhood physical and sexual abuse survivors" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3098124.