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  1. Abstract

    Parental religious beliefs and practices (religiosity) may have profound effects on youth, especially in neurodevelopmentally complex periods such as adolescence. In n = 5566 children (median age = 120.0 months; 52.1% females; 71.2% with religious affiliation) from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, relationships between parental religiosity and non-religious beliefs on family values (data on youth beliefs were not available), topological properties of youth resting-state brain networks, and executive function, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility were investigated. Lower caregiver education and family income were associated with stronger parental beliefs (p < 0.01). Strength of both belief types was correlated with lower efficiency, community structure, and robustness of frontoparietal control, temporoparietal, and dorsal attention networks (p < 0.05), and lower Matrix Reasoning scores. Stronger religious beliefs were negatively associated (directly and indirectly) with multiscale properties of salience and default-mode networks, and lower Flanker and Dimensional Card Sort scores, but positively associated with properties of the precuneus. Overall, these effects were small (Cohen’s d ~ 0.2 to ~ 0.4). Overlapping neuromodulatory and cognitive effects of parental beliefs suggest that early adolescents may perceive religious beliefs partly as context-independent rules on expected behavior. However, religious beliefs may also differentially affect cognitive flexibility, attention, and inhibitory control and their neural substrates.

  2. Abstract Adolescence is a period of profound but incompletely understood changes in the brain’s neural circuitry (the connectome), which is vulnerable to risk factors such as unhealthy weight, but may be protected by positive factors such as regular physical activity. In 5955 children (median age = 120 months; 50.86% females) from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) cohort, we investigated direct and indirect (through impact on body mass index [BMI]) effects of physical activity on resting-state networks, the backbone of the functional connectome that ubiquitously affects cognitive function. We estimated significant positive effects of regular physical activity on network connectivity, efficiency, robustness and stability (P ≤ 0.01), and on local topologies of attention, somatomotor, frontoparietal, limbic, and default-mode networks (P < 0.05), which support extensive processes, from memory and executive control to emotional processing. In contrast, we estimated widespread negative BMI effects in the same network properties and brain regions (P < 0.05). Additional mediation analyses suggested that physical activity could also modulate network topologies leading to better control of food intake, appetite and satiety, and ultimately lower BMI. Thus, regular physical activity may have extensive positive effects on the development of the functional connectome, and may be critical for improving the detrimental effects of unhealthy weight on cognitivemore »health.« less