ZocdocAnswersWhat is a misshapen hippocampus?

Question

What is a misshapen hippocampus?

I have read that when children are abused, they can have a misshapen hippocampus. What is a misshapen hippocampus? I was myself abused as a child and would like to have an understanding of how this might be affecting my brain or my thought patterns.

Answer

There are unfortunately many long lasting effects of child abuse and some of these can manifests in various parts of the brain. The doctors who will be best qualified to discuss this issue with you at length include your primary care doctor and your psychiatrist. The hippocampus is part of the limbic system in the brain, a deep structure which is involve in emotions, memories, and other complex phenomena. In particular the hippocampus has been found to be important in the way some types of new memories are formed and how spacial phenomena are processed The 'misshapen hippocampus' that you are referring to references a few small studies which have shown that the hippocampi from children who were abused may be smaller than those of their peers. Although it is hard to say specifically what effect on thought patterns a smaller hippocampus might have, it definitely makes the point that trauma in childhood has deep seated effects on the structure of the brain. As always the diagnosis and the management of any sequelae of child abuse in your case will require a physical examination and interview by your personal physician. Setting up a visit with your psychiatrist is highly advised.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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