Neural correlates of socioeconomic status in the developing human brain
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
, E. KAN
, E. R. SOWELL
, K. G. NOBLE
Dept. of Pediatrics, Children's Hosp. Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA;
Keck Sch. of Med.,
Dept. of Psychology, USC, Los Angeles, CA;
Dept. of Pediatrics,
GH Sergievsky Ctr., Columbia Univ., New York, NY;
New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Univ. Med. Ctr., New York, NY
Introduction: Socioeconomic disparities in childhood are associated with remarkable differences in cognitive and socio-emotional development during a time when dramatic changes are occurring in the brain. Yet, the neurobiological pathways through which socioeconomic status (SES) shapes development remain poorly understood. Behavioral evidence suggests that language, memory, social- emotional processing, and cognitive control exhibit relatively large differences across SES. Here we investigated whether volumetric differences could be observed across SES in neural regions that support these skills, including the hippocampus, the amygdala, the anterior cingulate cortex and several structures in a language-supporting network in the left temporal, temporo-occipital and frontal cortices.
Methods: Sixty typically developing, socioeconomically diverse children (31 female) were recruited, ranging in age from 5 to 17 years (Mean=11.4, SD=3.1). Participants had no history of neurological impairment, psychiatric disability, learning disability, language impairments, developmental delay, or significant exposure to prenatal teratogens such as alcohol. Two to four sagittal T1-weighted images were collected for each participant using the following parameters: TR= 1900 ms; TE= 4.38 ms; flip angle, 15; matrix size, 256x256; voxel size, 1 x 1 x 1 mm; acquisition time, 8 min 8s. Pre-processing and definition of cortical and subcortical gray matter regions on structural images were conducted using automated brain segmentation software (Freesurfer, 4.5). First, relationships between SES and regional cortical volume were explored. Next, we examined the degree to which the effects of SES factors on regional brain volume might change with age, by examining SES x age interactions in each ROI.
Results: Highly significant SES differences in regional brain volume were observed in the hippocampus and the amygdala. Specifically, higher parental education levels predicted larger amygdala volumes, whereas higher income-to-needs ratios predicted larger hippocampal volumes. In addition, SES x age interactions were observed in the left superior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus, such that children from higher SES families showed relatively greater volumetric increases with age in these regions. These results were not explained by differences in gender, race or IQ. Likely mechanisms include differences in the home linguistic environment and exposure to stress, which may serve as targets for intervention at a time of high neural plasticity.
NIDA Grant R01 DA017831
NICHD Grant R01 HD053893
NIH Grant R01 MH087563
John M. Driscoll, MD Scholars Program to KGN
[Authors]. [Abstract Title]. Program No. XXX.XX. 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012. Online.
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