Public Release: 

Effects of early life stress

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

In a study on early life stress exposure that included 42 participants, 19-23 years of age and who were assessed for stress during childhood, researchers found that individuals who experienced high childhood stress made poorer risk-taking decisions in a decision-making task and exhibited reduced brain activity in anticipation of receiving a potential loss or reward during a reward-processing task, compared with participants who experienced lower childhood stress; moreover, the findings were not associated with participants' current life stress, suggesting that childhood stress exposure might influence decision-making in adulthood.


Article #17-08791: "Early childhood stress exposure, reward pathways, and adult decision making," by Rasmus Birn, Barbara Roeber, and Seth Pollak.

MEDIA CONTACT: Seth Pollak, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI; tel: 608-890-2525; 608-698-2523; e-mail:

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