Evidence suggests that women who suffer from intimate partner violence (IPV) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have structural and functional alterations in specific brain regions. Yet, little is known about how brain connectivity may be altered in individuals with IPV, but without PTSD. Women exposed to IPV (n = 18) and healthy controls (n = 18) underwent structural brain imaging using a Siemens 3T MRI. Global and regional brain network connectivity measures were determined, using graph theory analyses. Structural covariance networks were created using volumetric and cortical thickness data after controlling for intracranial volume, age and alcohol use. Nonparametric permutation tests were used to investigate group differences. Findings revealed altered connectivity on a global and regional level in the IPV group of regions involved in cognitive-emotional control, with principal involvement of the caudal anterior cingulate, the middle temporal gyrus, left amygdala and ventral diencephalon that includes the thalamus. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence showing different brain network connectivity in global and regional networks in women exposed to IPV, and without PTSD. Altered cognitive-emotional control in IPV may underlie adaptive neural mechanisms in environments characterized by potentially dangerous cues.
- Brain network connectivity
- Cognitive-emotional control
- Intimate partner violence
- Posttraumatic stress disorder