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Income change alters default mode network connectivity for adolescents in poverty.


Experiencing poverty during childhood and adolescence may affect brain function. However, income is dynamic, and studies have not addressed whether income change relates to brain function. In the present study, we investigated whether intrinsic functional connectivity of default mode network (DMN) regions was influenced by mean family income and family income change. Parents of 68 Mexican-origin adolescents (35 females) reported family income annually when adolescents were 10-16 years old. Intercept and slope of income at each of these ages were calculated for each participant. At age 16 years, adolescents completed a resting state functional neuroimaging scan. Adolescents from high and low income families did not differ in their functional connectivity, but for adolescents in families with lower incomes, their connectivity patterns depended on their income slope. Low-income adolescents whose income increased demonstrated greater connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), both DMN regions, and between the PCC and the right inferior frontal gyrus. Increases in income were associated with greater connectivity of the mPFC with the right inferior frontal gyrus and the left superior parietal lobule regardless of mean income. Increases in income, especially among adolescents in poverty, may alleviate stressors, influencing the development of brain networks.

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