Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



O'Clair, O. (2023). Neurostructural Changes Associated with Methamphetamine Use and Traumatic Experiences. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Olivia O'Clair 2023.


Methamphetamine is an addictive substance that, with prolonged use, can lead to neurocognitive deficits. Neurocognitive deficits associated with methamphetamine use can include reduced function of visual memory ability (Moon, et al., 2007), prospective memory (Rendell, et al., 2009), social cognition and functionality of reward and impulse (Potvin, et al., 2018), as well as episodic memory and executive functioning (Scott, et al., 2007). Methamphetamine use has also been repeatedly linked to disproportionate experiences of interpersonal violence and other traumatic events (Hobkirk, et al., 2015; Sprang, Clark, & Staton-Tindall, 2010). This thesis utilized data from the ongoing from Connectomes-related to Active Methamphetamine-dependence Project (CAMP), which seeks to understand brain and behavior relationships among people who use methamphetamine (PwUM). This proposal explored relationships among traumatic events in PwUM and volumes of subcortical brain regions—determined from structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Brain volume measurements were also compared to age- and sex-matched control participants who have never used methamphetamine to determine group differences. This research examined evidence of neurostructural differences between PwUM and control participants while discovering relationships with specific types of traumatic experiences (i.e., direct interpersonal violence experience, witnessing interpersonal violence, and experiences with other traumatic stressors). This research replicates findings consistent with prior research regarding trauma within the PwUM group (Hobkirk, et al., 2015). Findings motivate the need for research at the intersection of substance use and trauma and are discussed in terms of prospective approaches to treatment and future research.