Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

The Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) & Cognition

Publication Date

Fall 2022


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refer to a wide variety of traumatic events experienced during childhood. Although previous literature demonstrates long-lasting, negative effects of ACEs on several cognitive domains (i.e., memory and executive functioning), it is unknown whether these effects translate to specific cognitive abilities. Nonsymbolic abilities, such as determining how much time has passed without looking at a clock or how many individuals are in a crowded room, are primarily developed during early childhood and have been shown to predict later life academic achievement (Mazzocco et al., 2011; Odic et al., 2016). Given its commonality and importance in predicting later attainments, this study aims to investigate the relationship between ACEs and nonsymbolic numerical and temporal cognition. Present research consisted of approximately 60 Belmont undergraduate students recruited from Belmont University’s Introductory Psychology courses. Participants were asked to complete both nonsymbolic temporal and numerical discrimination tasks, and cognitive performance was measured using accuracy and response time. Additionally, participants were asked to complete the ACEs questionnaire which was used to measure different forms of traumatic events that one may have experienced during childhood. Data is being collected and we anticipate a negative relationship between ACEs and cognition. Specifically, we expect significant differences in temporal and numerical task performance with higher accuracy on numerical discrimination tasks. Future research should explore the relationship between ACEs and other cognitive domains to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of ACEs on cognition.

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