Socioeconomic Status and the Brain: Mechanistic Insights from Human and Animal Research

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Center for Neuroscience and Society, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 3720 Walnut Street, Room B51, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6241, USA.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 31.43). 09/2010; 11(9):651-9. DOI: 10.1038/nrn2897
Source: PubMed


Human brain development occurs within a socioeconomic context and childhood socioeconomic status (SES) influences neural development--particularly of the systems that subserve language and executive function. Research in humans and in animal models has implicated prenatal factors, parent-child interactions and cognitive stimulation in the home environment in the effects of SES on neural development. These findings provide a unique opportunity for understanding how environmental factors can lead to individual differences in brain development, and for improving the programmes and policies that are designed to alleviate SES-related disparities in mental health and academic achievement.

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    • "The consequences of this inequity are far-reaching. First, it is well established that child poverty has adverse longterm effects on the life chances of these children as well as on their opportunities to become future productive adults (Duncan et al. 1998; Hackman et al. 2010). Second, given the inheritance of social inequality, children growing up in poverty have a great chance of becoming poor parents themselves (Corak 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: A large body of research has demonstrated that child benefit systems are of paramount importance in reducing child poverty, thus having an important vertical equity component. Although all child benefit systems embody in one way or the other such vertical equity objective, the primary objective of child benefit systems is to (at least partly) compensate for the costs associated with childrearing and to minimize the welfare loss relative to childless families, a horizontal equity objective. Most studies are concerned with vertical equity and child poverty reduction; here we also explicitly take the dimension of horizontal equity into account. In this paper, we propose and develop a two-dimensional framework for evaluating and classifying the outcomes of child benefit systems in terms of both vertical and horizontal equity. Treating these two objectives as analytically distinct permits the construction of a synthetic index of child benefit outcomes and allows for the explicit incorporation of a value judgement about the most important objective of child benefit systems. In doing so, we propose a novel measure for gauging horizontal equity based on the cost of children implicit in commonly used equivalence scales drawing on the public finance literature. We demonstrate the potential of our evaluative framework for policy purposes by means of an empirical application for 31 European welfare states. We contribute to the literature by highlighting the role of characteristics of benefit systems in achieving certain objectives regarding horizontal and/or vertical equity.
    Social Indicators Research 08/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11205-015-1080-9 · 1.40 Impact Factor
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    • "Moreover, broader studies should also investigate the effects of socioeconomic status and the impact that this may have on cognitive functioning impairments. This sample was homogenous on SES (see Table 1) and generalizability may be limited (Hackmanet al., 2010). Attaining earlier scans may also begin to unravel the direction of impairment (i.e., do brainbased deficits affect eating behaviors or vice versa). "
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    ABSTRACT: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and obesity are linked to specific patterns of subcortical brain atrophy and decreased microstructural integrity of white matter. Fifteen adolescents (12-21-years-old, 80% Caucasian, 15% African American, mean BMI=32)-five with T2DM confirmed by oral glucose tolerance test, five matched obese adolescent controls without diabetes (OBCN), and five matched (race, sex) normal-weight controls (NWCN)-underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the collection of gray matter volume and white matter integrity. Analyses of Variance (ANOVAs) of the neuroimaging data revealed significant differences in caudate nucleus volume [F(2,12)=7.79, p<0.05] such that the normal-weight group had significantly greater volume than the obese and T2DM groups (NWCN>OBCN, p=0.020; OBCN>T2DM, p=0.042; and NWCN>T2DM; p=0.003) after controlling for participant Body Mass Index (BMI). Similarly, there was a main effect for the volume of the thalamus [F(2,12)=4.39, p<0.05] with greater volume for both the NWC and the OBC groups in comparison to the T2DM group (NWC>T2DM, p=0.020; OBC>T2DM; p=0.040). Finally, an examination of white matter integrity among the three groups illustrated a pattern of white matter integrity reduction between normal-weight participants and both obese controls and T2DM participants, with T2DM demonstrating the greatest deficit in functional anisotropy (FA) volume, but these results were not significant after further controlling for BMI. Results from the current pilot study illuminate a host of brain morphology differences between youth with T2DM, obese youth, and normal-weight controls; future research with a larger sample size is critical. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    International journal of developmental neuroscience: the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience 07/2015; 46. DOI:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2015.07.003 · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    • "Results from a small cohort study in Granada (Spain) analysing exposure to NO 2 also indicated reductions in cognitive and psychomotor developments in 4-year-old children (Freire et al., 2010). Maternal resources during pregnancy play an important role in the physical and mental health of offspring (Bolton et al., 2013; Hackman et al., 2010). Other factors that have been widely studied in relation to their effect on neuropsychological development include maternal IQ (Der et al., 2006), socioeconomic status (Calderón-Garcidueñas and Torres-Jardón, 2012; Hajat et al., 2013) and breastfeeding (Walfisch et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal exposure to air pollutants has recently been identified as a potential risk factor for neuropsychological impairment. To assess whether prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and benzene were associated with impaired development in infants during their second year of life. Regression analyses, based on 438 mother-child pairs, were performed to estimate the association between mother exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy and neurodevelopment of the child. The average exposure to PM2.5, NO2 and benzene over the whole pregnancy was calculated for each woman. During the second year of life, infant neuropsychological development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Regression analyses were performed to estimate the association between exposure and outcomes, accounting for potential confounders. We estimated that a 1μg/m(3) increase during pregnancy in the average levels of PM2.5 was associated with a -1.14 point decrease in motor score (90% CI: -1.75; -0.53) and that a 1μg/m(3) increase of NO2 exposure was associated with a -0.29 point decrease in mental score (90% CI: -0.47; -0.11). Benzene did not show any significant association with development. Considering women living closer (≤100m) to metal processing activities, we found that motor scores decreased by -3.20 (90% CI: -5.18; -1.21) for PM2.5 and -0.51 (-0.89; -0.13) for NO2, while mental score decreased by -2.71 (90% CI: -4.69; -0.74) for PM2.5, and -0.41 (9% CI: -0.76; -0.06) for NO2. Our findings suggest that prenatal residential exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 adversely affects infant motor and cognitive developments. This negative effect could be higher in the proximity of metal processing plants. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Environment international 07/2015; 80. DOI:10.1016/j.envint.2015.03.007 · 5.56 Impact Factor
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