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Title: Brain network coupling associated with cognitive performance varies as a function of a child’s environment in the ABCD study

Prior research indicates that lower resting-state functional coupling between two brain networks, lateral frontoparietal network (LFPN) and default mode network (DMN), relates to cognitive test performance, for children and adults. However, most of the research that led to this conclusion has been conducted with non-representative samples of individuals from higher-income backgrounds, and so further studies including participants from a broader range of socioeconomic backgrounds are required. Here, in a pre-registered study, we analyzed resting-state fMRI from 6839 children ages 9–10 years from the ABCD dataset. For children from households defined as being above poverty (family of 4 with income > $25,000, or family of 5+ with income > $35,000), we replicated prior findings; that is, we found that better performance on cognitive tests correlated with weaker LFPN-DMN coupling. For children from households defined as being in poverty, the direction of association was reversed, on average: better performance was instead directionally related to stronger LFPN-DMN connectivity, though there was considerable variability. Among children in households below poverty, the direction of this association was predicted in part by features of their environments, such as school type and parent-reported neighborhood safety. These results highlight the importance of including representative samples in studies of child cognitive development.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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