How Trauma disrupts Regulation

Brain-Body Regulation is the result of very complex SENSING and RESPONDING cycles throughout the system - with the goal of keeping all parts of the system in balance (Homeostasis).

The experience of TRAUMA initiates the ACUTE STRESS RESPONSE with release of hormones and adapted SIGNALING to prepare the system to respond to harm.  However, if the TRAUMA is chronic and severe (COMPLEX TRAUMA), the Brain-Body's regulatory systems can become overwhelmed - and not able to appropriately SENSE or RESPOND.

Regulatory imbalance initiates INFLAMMATION.  Chronic Inflammation results in changes in the Brain-Body structure and function - resulting in Chronic Disease.


Andersen (2022). Neuroinflammation, early-life adversity, and brain developmentHarv Rev Psychiatry.

Lanius (2020)  The sense of self in the aftermath of trauma: lessons from the default mode network in posttraumatic stress disorder.  Eur J Psychotraumatol  Trauma can profoundly affect the sense of self.  Self-related thoughts and experiences are represented neurobiologically by a large-scale, cortical network located along the brain's mid-line and referred to as the default mode network (DMN).  Participants with PTSD showed substantially reduced resting-state functional connectivity compared to healthy individuals, with greater reductions associated with heightened PTSD symptom severity.

Marini (2020). Adversity exposure during sensitive periods predicts accelerated epigenetic aging in children.  Psychoneuroendocrinology.  

Thome (2018)  Desynchronization of autonomic response and central autonomic network connectivity in posttraumatic stress disorderHuman Brain Mapp.  First evidence of a specific psychophysiological-neuro profile in persons with PTSD.  

Marusak (2015)  Childhood trauma exposure disrupts the automatic regulation of emotional processing.  Neuropsychopharmacology.   Study of trauma-exposed youth (compared to matched controls) had functional MRI while performing emotional conflict task.  Trauma-exposed youth failed to dampen (quiet) cortical activity and had increased activation of the amygdala circuitry - with resulting difficulty regulating emotions.