Language processing following childhood poverty: Evidence for disrupted neural networks

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Childhood poverty is related to deficits in multiple cognitive domains including adult language function. It is unknown if the brain basis of language is disrupted in adults with childhood poverty backgrounds, controlling for current functioning. Fifty-one adults (age 24) from an existing longitudinal study of childhood poverty, beginning at age 9, were examined on behavioral phonological awareness (LP) and completed an event-related fMRI speech/print processing LP task. Adults from childhood poverty backgrounds exhibited lower LP in adulthood. The middle-income group exhibited greater activation of the bilateral IFG and hippocampus during language processing. In psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analyses, the childhood poverty group exhibited greater coupling between ventral Broca's and the middle temporal gyrus (MTG) as well as coupling between Wernicke's region and bilateralization. Childhood poverty disrupts language processing neural networks in adulthood, after controlling for LP, suggesting that poverty in childhood influences the neurophysiological basis for language processing into adulthood.




Perkins, S. C., Shaun Ho, S., Evans, G. W., Liberzon, I., Gopang, M., & Swain, J. E. (2024). Language processing following childhood poverty: Evidence for disrupted neural networks. Brain and Language, 252.

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