Childhood Social Inequalities influences Neural Processes in Young Adult Caregiving

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Childhood poverty is associated with harsh parenting with a risk of transmission to the next generation. This prospective study examined the relations between childhood poverty and non‐parent adults' neural responses to infant cry sounds. While no main effects of poverty were revealed in contrasts of infant cry versus acoustically matched white noise, a gender by childhood poverty interaction emerged. In females, childhood poverty was associated with increased neural activations in the posterior insula, striatum, calcarine sulcus, hippocampus, and fusiform gyrus, while, in males, childhood poverty was associated with reduced levels of neural responses to infant cry in the same regions. Irrespective of gender, neural activation in these regions was associated with higher levels of annoyance with the cry sound and reduced desire to approach the crying infant. The findings suggest gender differences in neural and emotional responses to infant cry sounds among young adults growing up in poverty.

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