Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Pilyoung Kim, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Benjamin Hankin

Third Advisor

Sarah Watamura

Fourth Advisor

Omar Gudino

Fifth Advisor

Maria Riva


Anxiety, Coping, Exposure to poverty, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Middle childhood, Responses to stress


This study examined the relationship between the amount of time spent living in poverty since birth and self-reported symptoms of anxiety in middle childhood. Several models were tested with consideration to the potential modulating roles of coping strategies, responses to stress, and threat bias neural functioning. Exposure to poverty is associated with increased risk for anxiety throughout childhood, adolescence, and into young adulthood (McLoyd, 1998, Najman et al., 2010). Individual factors such as use of various coping strategies and responses to stress, as well as neural processes related to attentional bias toward threat, have been shown to differentially impact risk for anxiety (Bar-Haim et al., 2007; Grant et al., 2003; Wadsworth & Berger, 2006). However, the relationships between exposure to poverty, use of specific coping strategies and responses to stress, threat bias neural functioning, and anxiety symptoms is unknown. In the current study, exposure to poverty, coping and responses to stress, and symptoms of anxiety were measured by child and parent report during a visit to the family's home. Child brain activation during an attentional threat-bias task was then assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The amount of time spent in poverty since birth was correlated with anxiety symptoms. The effect of time spent in poverty since birth was strengthened by endorsement of low levels of involuntary disengagement to result in increased levels of anxiety symptoms. Lastly, the amount of time spent in poverty since birth was related to ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation in response to an emotional threat-bias task. These findings support the differential impact of stress responses and neural correlates of threat bias on the relationship between childhood exposure to poverty and anxiety symptoms.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Hannah Bianco


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

66 p.


Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Neurosciences

Included in

Psychology Commons