What types of physical and emotional abuse have long-term, maybe lifelong effects on brain function?
There's a type of trauma and abuse that is referred to as 'insidious' trauma too. This is a type of abuse that is so subtle at first that you don't notice it and it is only after continuous exposure that you can highlight it. This is a type of abuse that escalates so slowly that most victims aren't aware that what they are experiencing is abuse until looking back to the beginning after a stretch of time. I'm sure I've got articles about this somewhere so I'll look for these for you.
All types of abuse either it is emotional and physical have life long effect. Trauma change the neuronal pathways and pattern of thinking. Not only abuse changes thinking patterns but also behavior.
Here's an interesting research about the way chilhood abuse/ neglect affects the brain:
"Dr. Martin Teicher and his colleagues at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Northeastern University studied the relationship between abuse and brain structure by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to identify measured changes in brain structure among young adults who had experienced childhood abuse or neglect."
They found clear differences in nine brain regions between those who had experienced childhood trauma and those who had not.
The most obvious changes were in the brain regions that help balance emotions and impulses, as well as self-aware thinking. The study's results indicate that people who have been through childhood abuse or neglect do have an increased risk of developing mental health issues later on.
The following article also mentions some of the negative effects childhood abuse and neglect can have on the brain:
Decreased size of the corpus callosum, which integrates cortical functioning—motor, sensory, and cognitive performances—between the hemispheres
Decreased size of the hippocampus, which is important in learning and memory
Dysfunction at different levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is involved in the stress response
Less volume in the prefrontal cortex, which affects behavior, emotional balance, and perception
Overactivity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions and determining reactions to potentially stressful or dangerous situations
Reduced volume of the cerebellum, which can affect motor skills and coordination
All types of abuse can have long-term effects. Obviously physical abuse can cause permanent physical damage, but any type of abuse can cause PTSD or c-PTSD.