Effect of Exposure to Socio-Political Violence and Abuse During Childhood on Executive Planning in Adult Life

David Andrés Montoya-Arenas, Daniel Londoño-Guzmán, José G. Franco, Ana M. Gaviria

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: The exposure to unfavorable environments during childhood negatively affects the development of the executive planning abilities in adult life. In countries with sociopolitical conflicts, children are exposed to traumatic events as a result of child abuse and sociopolitical violence. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of the exposure to both forms of adverse childhood experiences on the executive planning abilities in adults from the general population. Method: The history of child abuse and sociopolitical violence during childhood was assessed, as well as the executive planning abilities, in 59 adults older than 49 without cognitive impairment or depressive disorder. Results: Of the sample, 88.1% experienced at least one child abuse event and 47.5% was exposed to sociopolitical violence. Sexual abuse and physical abuse (child abuse) were associated with reduced performance in executive planning. Forced displacement and extortion (sociopolitical violence) had a mixed relationship with planning ability, improving some aspects, and worsening some others. Kidnapping was associated with increased capacity and control of the working memory and executive planning. Conclusions: The traumatic events during childhood have differential effects on the executive planning skills in the adult life. The exposure to sexual and physical abuse negatively affects executive skills; on the other hand, sociopolitical violence has a mixed or positive impact. Specifically, kidnapping favors the executive planning processes, probably under an evolutionary adaptive mechanism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number693741
    JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
    StatePublished - 15 Feb 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    Copyright © 2022 Montoya-Arenas, Londoño-Guzmán, Franco and Gaviria.


    • adverse childhood experiences
    • child abuse
    • elderly
    • executive planning
    • violence


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