Childhood poverty has been linked to emotion dysregulation, which is further associated with negative physical and psychological health in adulthood. The current study provides evidence of prospective associations between childhood poverty and adult neural activity during effortful attempts to regulate negative emotion. Adults with lower family income at age 9 exhibited reduced ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity and failure to suppress amygdala activation at age 24. Chronic stressor exposure across childhood mediated the relations between family income at age 9 and prefrontal cortex activity. The concurrent adult income, on the other hand, was not associated with neural activity. The information on the developmental timing of poverty effects and neural mechanisms may inform early interventions aimed at reducing health disparities.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Childhood poverty changes adult brain emotion regulation pathways.
Kim et al. add sobering detail to the story of how the chronic stress experienced by children in poverty correlates with long term change in the emotion regulation pathways of those children when they become adults. Controlling our emotions depends on the ability of portions of our prefrontal cortex to suppress activation of our amygdala's reactivity. Apparently chronic stress in childhood blocks normal development of this inhibition. Here is the authors' statement of the significance of their work: