Convergent research suggests that childhood poverty is associated with perturbation in the stress response system. This might extend to aberrations in the connectivity of large-scale brain networks, which subserve key cognitive and emotional functions. Resting-state brain activity was measured in adults with a documented history of childhood poverty (n=26) and matched controls from middle-income families (n=26). Participants also underwent a standard laboratory social stress test and provided saliva samples for cortisol assay. Childhood poverty was associated with reduced default mode network (DMN) connectivity. This, in turn, was associated with higher cortisol levels in anticipation of social stress. These results suggest a possible brain basis for exaggerated stress sensitivity in low-income individuals. Alterations in DMN may be associated with less efficient cognitive processing or greater risk for development of stress-related psychopathology among individuals who experienced the adversity of chronic childhood poverty.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health