Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Hideo Suzuki

Date of this Version

Spring 5-2021


Tonjes, S. L. (2021). Relationship of Early Life Maltreatment to Self Regulation During an Affective Stroop Task [Master's thesis, University of Nebraska–Lincoln].


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Hideo Suzuki. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Sophie L. Tonjes


Background: Previous research has found that childhood maltreatment is associated with emotional regulation difficulties, as well associations with brain structures, such as the amygdala and hippocampus. However, there are individual differences in the effect of maltreatment on emotional regulation, and this relationship may be dependent upon amygdala or hippocampal volume. The present study hypothesized that amygdala or hippocampal volume would moderate the relationship between maltreatment and emotional regulation. Method: Forty-nine college students were assessed for their history of parenting and participated in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study. Moreover, to measure emotional regulation skills, participants completed the Affective Stroop task, which assessed reaction time for counting during three emotional distractors: positive, negative, and neutral images. Hierarchical regressions were conducted to test the interaction between childhood maltreatment and amygdala or hippocampal volumes in predicting reaction time during emotional distractors. Results: No main or interaction effect was found, but there were trends for reaction time during emotional images to be associated with the interaction between maltreatment and hippocampal volume. Conclusions: These findings suggest that early life maltreatment does not directly have an impact on emotional regulation and its effect does not interact with amygdala or hippocampal volume. These negative findings were discussed.

Advisor: Hideo Suzuki