Effects of childhood socioeconomic status on cognition and related neural systems in adulthood
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
, Y. YAMADA, A. HAMPTON WRAY, E. ISBELL, H. NEVILLE;
Psychology, Univ. of Oregon, EUGENE, OR
A large and growing literature documents the profound impact of lower socioeconomic status (SES) on cognitive skills and brain structures and functions in children (Hackman, Farah, & Meaney, 2010). In previous event-related potential (ERP) studies we have reported that lower SES children display reduced neural modulation by selective attention compared to higher SES children (Stevens, Lauinger, & Neville, 2009) and that neural systems supporting attention are modifiable by training (Stevens et al., 2008; Neville et al., 2011, under review). We have also reported that the relationship between SES and cognition persists into adulthood, as childhood SES predicts both native language proficiency as well as the ERP response to syntactic processing in adult native speakers (Pakulak & Neville, 2010). Here we show that this relationship extends to other aspects of cognition and to a different, more ecologically valid ERP language processing paradigm. Finally, we present preliminary evidence suggesting that certain aspects of these systems may be malleable in adults from lower SES backgrounds. Typically developing adults from a wide range of SES backgrounds were administered a comprehensive battery including measures of working memory and language and three ERP paradigms assessing selective attention and different subsystems of language. Childhood SES was significantly predictive of working memory in adulthood. Employing the same ERP measures of attention previously employed (e.g., Stevens et al., 2009), we found that adults from higher SES backgrounds showed enhanced neural modulation by selective attention to linguistic probe stimuli compared to adults from lower SES backgrounds. Using an ERP language paradigm featuring a more ecologically valid context, we replicated and expanded our previous findings (Pakulak & Neville, 2010). Adults from higher SES backgrounds and who scored higher on standardized measures of language proficiency showed neural responses consistent with greater maturity to both semantic and syntactic violations. Finally, we provide evidence that aspects of attention are trainable in adults. We measured attention/executive function abilities of parents of lower SES children randomly assigned to either an evidence-based parenting program or one of two control groups and observed improvements in specific aspects of attention after eight weeks in the parent training program only. These results suggest that the effects of lower childhood SES on the development of multiple cognitive systems extends into adulthood, but also that such effects may be ameliorated by training in adulthood.
A. Hampton Wray:
NIH NIDCD DC000128
[Authors]. [Abstract Title]. Program No. XXX.XX. 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012. Online.
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