Socioeconomic Risk and Neural Correlates of Working Memory in Preschool-Aged Children: An FNIRS Study



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Children exposed to early childhood poverty are at increased risk for learning and academic problems. Recent work has shown that poverty may affect neurocognitive systems that support higher level cognition, which may explain increased risk for delays. In this study, we investigated how variability in poverty exposure, based on family income, influences neural function and behavior during a working memory task in children aged 4 to 7 years. Children (n = 25) participated in a spatial working memory task while their DLPFC was monitored using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We found that low SES, based on family income, was associated with lower DLPFC activation. This points to one mechanism by which children exposed to poverty are at increased risk for problematic outcomes and has implications for early intervention and prevention.



fNIRS, Socio-economic status, Poverty, Working memory, Reaction time, Developmental psychology