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Long-term effects of childhood single-parent family structure on brain connectivity and psychological well-being.

The high and increasing proportion of single-parent families is considered a risk factor associated with various childhood trauma experiences. Consequently, concerns have been raised regarding the potential long-term effects of the childhood single-parent family structure. In this study, we employed advanced magnetic resonance imaging technology, including morphometric similarity mapping, functional connectivity density, and network-based analysis, to investigate brain connectivity and behavioral differences among young adults who were raised in single-parent families. Our study also aimed to explore the relationship between these differences and childhood trauma experiences. The results showed that individuals who grew up in single-parent families exhibited higher levels of anxiety, depression, and harm-avoidant personality. The multimodal MRI analysis further showed differences in regional and network-based connectivity properties in the single-parent family group, including increased functional connectivity density in the left inferior parietal lobule, enhanced cortical structural connectivity between the left isthmus cingulate cortex and peri-calcarine cortex, and an increase in temporal functional connectivity. Moreover, elevated levels of anxiety and depression, along with heightened functional connectivity density in the left inferior parietal lobule and increased temporal functional connectivity, were found to be correlated with a greater number of childhood trauma experiences. Through analyzing multiple data patterns, our study provides objective neuropsychobiological evidence for the enduring impact of childhood single-parent family structure on psychiatric vulnerability in adulthood.

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