Sexual trauma and the female brain

Tracey J. Shors, Emma M. Millon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Sexual aggression and violence against women (VAM) are not only social problems; they are mental health problems. Women who experience sexual trauma often express disruptions in emotional and cognitive processes, some of which lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Animal models of neurogenesis and learning suggest that social yet aggressive interactions between a pubescent female and an adult male can disrupt processes of learning related to maternal care, which in turn reduce survival of new neurons in the female hippocampus. Mental and Physical (MAP) Training is a novel clinical intervention that was translated from neurogenesis research. The intervention, which combines meditation and aerobic exercise, is currently being used to help women learn to recover from traumatic life experiences, especially those related to sexual violence and abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


  • Depression
  • Exercise
  • Fear
  • Hippocampus
  • Learning
  • Maternal behavior
  • Meditation
  • Memory
  • Neurogenesis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Puberty
  • Rumination
  • Sexual violence
  • Stress
  • Violence against women

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