Giving Compass' Take:

• According to a new study from Brandeis University, people who experience trauma in child and adulthood may experience a greater amount of cognitive decline as they age than individuals who haven’t experienced trauma.

• How can organizations use this research to help trauma-affected victims? How can this information be used to help stop diseases such as Alzheimer's? 

• Here’s more on how childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime.

The research also showed that recent trauma in adulthood has a larger impact on some aspects of cognitive functioning than trauma in childhood.

“We found that the more adverse events experienced, such as your parents’ divorce or a parent dying, the greater the cognitive decline,” says coauthor Margie Lachman, professor of psychology at Brandeis University.

The researchers studied roughly 2,500 adults, ages 28 to 84, between 2004 and 2013. The participants were part of the Midlife Development in the US (MIDUS) study, a national longitudinal study of health and well-being in adulthood.

Participants were given a list of 12 potentially traumatic events and asked if they’d experienced any, and how negatively they were affected.

The events on the list included divorce or death of a parent during childhood, emotional or physical abuse, parental alcohol or drug addiction, combat experience, and losing a home to fire, flood, or natural disaster. For any of these to be considered traumatic, respondents needed to indicate they caused severe emotional distress.

Researchers also asked subjects a series of questions that tested their cognitive abilities in two areas: executive functioning (EF) and episodic memory (EM). EF pertains to such skills as focusing attention, planning, problem-solving, and multitasking. The test of EM involved remembering recently learned information.

Read the full article about trauma and cognitive decline by Lawrence Goodman at Futurity.