A CROSS-SPECIES EXAMINATION OF THE BIO-BEHAVIORAL IMPACT OF POVERTY ON EXECUTIVE FUNCTION, Rosemarie Perry, New York University, United States
Rosemarie Perry, New York University; Stephen Braren, New York University; Gabriella Pollonini, NYU; Meriah DeJoseph, University of Minnesota; Cristina Alberini, New York University; Regina Sullivan, Nathan Kline Institute & NYU School Medicine; Clancy Blair, NYU
Children in high-poverty homes lag behind their higher income peers in neurocognitive indicators of school readiness, such as executive function (EF). However, the mechanisms by which poverty can increase the risk of EF difficulties are unclear. Here we present findings from a cross-species human and rodent study, exploring relations between early-life environments of scarcity-adversity and EF bio-behavioral outcomes in peri-adolescence. Human data come from the Family Life Project, a population-based longitudinal sample (n=1292), which oversampled for impoverished families. In peri-adolescence, EF was assessed using a battery of working memory, inhibition and attention shifting tasks. Rodent data come from a model of early-life scarcity, where rodent mothers were provided with insufficient materials so they could not build a proper nest for their pups. Human results demonstrated a link between early-life poverty exposure and EF impairments in peri-adolescence. Rodent results revealed that scarcity-reared peri-adolescent rodents displayed EF impairments, with evidence of upregulated glucocorticoid receptor levels in the medial prefrontal cortex. Following an intervention in which scarcity-reared rats were co-housed with a control rat, scarcity-reared rats did not demonstrate deficits in EF. Overall, human and rodent results indicate process similarities in terms of scarcity-adversity and EF outcomes. Results provide implications for how early-life scarcity disrupts cognitive skills, which are vital to classroom learning and academic achievement.