Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Glena L. Andrews, PhD

Second Advisor

Jory Smith, PsyD

Third Advisor

Carlos Taloyo, PsyD


Significant differences have been found in neural connectivity of the brain in frontal, central, temporal, and parietal areas of individuals who experienced childhood trauma compared to those who had not (Cook, Ciorciari, Varker, & Devilly, 2009). This study investigated the relationship between the number of distressing and traumatic life experiences and participants’ neural responses to observing simulated conflict in intimate relationship. Graduate students (n = 11) answered conflict resolution and emotional activation questions while watching a simulated, escalating marital conflict. The participants’ neural responses were recorded via EEG mean power data from frontal and temporal brain regions. Heart rate (bpm) and galvanic skin response (gsr) were also collected. Participants completed questionnaires (SRRS, LEC-5) in order to identify trauma (experimental) and non-trauma (control) groups. Results indicated a significant interaction between groups. A main effect for conditions and channels was also found. Results within the experimental group suggested brain activation decreased in response to stimuli, demonstrating the possibility of emotional centers shutting down in response to viewing conflict.