Food and Behaviour Research

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Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents.

Noble KG, Houston SM, Brito NH, Bartsch H, Kan E, Kuperman JM, Akshoomoff N, Amaral DG, Bloss C, Libiger O, Schork NJ, Murray SS, Casey BJ, Chang L, Ernst TM, Frazier JA, Gruen JR, Kennedy DN, Van Zijl P, Mostofsky S, Kaufmann WE, Kenet T, Dale AM, Jernigan TL, Sowell ER (2015) Nat Neurosci.   doi: 10.1038/nn.3983. [Epub ahead of print] Nature Publishing Group

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Abstract:

Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structureis unclear.

We investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and 
brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1,099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years of age. 

Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area. Among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area.

These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities.

These data imply that 
income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children.