Timing-specific associations between income-to-needs ratio and hippocampal and amygdala volumes in middle childhood

By Bruce Ramphal, David Pagliaccio, Jordan D. Dworkin, Julie Herbstman, Kimberly G. Noble & Amy E. Margolis in Applied neuroimaging

September 23, 2021


It is well known that financial disadvantage is associated with alterations in brain development in regions critical to socioemotional well-being such as the hippocampus and the amygdala. Yet little is known about whether family income at different points in development is differentially associated with these structures. Furthermore, little is known about which environmental factors statistically mediate associations between income and subcortical structure. Using a longitudinal birth cohort and linear mixed-effects models, we identified associations between income-to-needs ratio (INR) at 6 timepoints throughout childhood and hippocampal and amygdala volumes at age 7–9 years (n = 41; 236 INR measurements; 41 brain measurements). Mediation analysis identified environmental sequelae of income that statistically accounted for INR–brain associations. Lower INR prior to age 4 was associated with smaller hippocampal volumes, whereas lower INR prior to age 2 was associated with smaller right amygdala volume. These associations were mediated by unmet basic needs (e.g., food, housing). These findings delineate the temporal specificity of associations between income and hippocampal and amygdala structures.

Posted on:
September 23, 2021
1 minute read, 167 words
Applied neuroimaging
See Also:
Structural brain measures among children with and without ADHD: A cross-sectional US population-based study
Citation inequity and gendered citation practices in contemporary physics
Noise complaint patterns in New York City: Socioeconomic disparities and COVID-19 exacerbations