Functional and Structural Brain Correlates of Socioeconomic Status

Zachary A. Yaple, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Socioeconomic status (SES) is a multidimensional construct that includes not only measures of material wealth, but also education, social prestige, and neighborhood quality. Socioeconomic correlates between wealth and cognitive functions have been well established in behavioral studies. However, functional and structural brain correlates of SES remain unclear. Here, we sought to uncover the most likely neural regions to be affected by low SES, specifically associated with age. Using effect size–seed-based d Mapping, we compiled studies that examined individuals with low SES and performed functional magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry meta-analyses. The results revealed that as from early to late age, individuals exposed to low SES are less likely to have sustained executive network activity yet a greater likelihood to enhanced activity within reward-related regions. A similar activity was shown for gray matter volume across early to older age. These findings provide the first quantitative integration of neuroimaging results pertaining to the neural basis of SES. Hypoactivation of the executive network and hyperactivation of the reward network in low SES individuals may support the scarcity hypothesis and animal models of the effects of early adversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181–196
Number of pages16
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number1
Early online date2 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

User-Defined Keywords

  • Socioeconomic status
  • Seed-based d mapping
  • VBM
  • fMRI


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