Childhood poverty and recruitment of adult emotion regulatory neurocircuitry

Israel Liberzon, Sean T. Ma, Go Okada, S. Shaun Ho, James E. Swain, Gary W. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


One in five American children grows up in poverty. Childhood poverty has far-reaching adverse impacts on cognitive, social and emotional development. Altered development of neurocircuits, subserving emotion regulation, is one possible pathway for childhood poverty's ill effects. Children exposed to poverty were followed into young adulthood and then studied using functional brain imaging with an implicit emotion regulation task focused. Implicit emotion regulation involved attention shifting and appraisal components. Early poverty reduced left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex recruitment in the context of emotional regulation. Furthermore, this emotion regulation associated brain activation mediated the effects of poverty on adult task performance. Moreover, childhood poverty also predicted enhanced insula and reduced hippocampal activation, following exposure to acute stress. These results demonstrate that childhood poverty can alter adult emotion regulation neurocircuitry, revealing specific brain mechanisms that may underlie long-term effects of social inequalities on health. The role of poverty-related emotion regulatory neurocircuitry appears to be particularly salient during stressful conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1596-1606
Number of pages11
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 5 2014


  • Adulthood
  • Childhood poverty
  • Emotion regulation
  • Task performanc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Childhood poverty and recruitment of adult emotion regulatory neurocircuitry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this