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The Neurobiological and Cognitive 

Impact of Complex Trauma:

Implications for Intervention

by Kim Felmingham

Childhood trauma is a key risk factor that predicts a range of later psychological problems in adulthood. Converging evidence reveals a significant impact of childhood trauma on neurobiological development (in terms of brain structure and function), psychological processes, hormonal and  cognitive functioning, which may underlie the effect of childhood trauma on later psychological functioning.  This talk will provide an overview of current research findings on the impact of childhood trauma on key neural, hormonal, cognitive and psychological functions, and will highlight a role of critical “sensitive periods” of trauma exposure on development.  Implications for psychological interventions will be discussed.  A better understanding of the underlying processes mediating the impact of childhood trauma on later mental health may lead to novel interventions which focus on preventing the long-term impact of childhood trauma.

About the Presenter:

Kim Felmingham, PhD is the Chair of Clinical Psychology at the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne.  She is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist, who specializes in the field of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  She has over fifteen years of experience in treating PTSD, including treating adult survivors of childhood trauma.  Professor Felmingham is recognized for her research examining the neural and biological mechanisms associated with PTSD, with a specific focus on key mechanisms such as emotional memory consolidation, fear conditioning and extinction, emotion regulation and hormonal and genetic influences on these processes.  She has published extensively in neuroimaging, event-related potential and psychophysiological fields in PTSD.  A recent research focus is to identify the impact of childhood trauma on neural and psychological functioning, with a specific interest in identifying the impact of critical periods of trauma exposure during development.

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