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Publication Detail
Childhood socio-economic disadvantage predicts reduced myelin growth across adolescence and young adulthood
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Ziegler G, Moutoussis M, Hauser TU, Fearon R, Bullmore ET, Goodyer IM, Fonagy P, Jones PB, NSPN Consortium , Lindenberger U, Dolan RJ
  • Publisher:
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Human Brain Mapping
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    Myelin, Magnetization transfer, Development, Quantitative imaging, Socio-economic disadvantage, Adolescence, Young adulthood, Parenting, Parental education, Longitudinal
Socio-economic disadvantage increases exposure to life stressors. Animal research suggests early life stressors impact later neurodevelopment, including myelin developmental growth. To determine how early life disadvantage may affect myelin growth in adolescence and young adulthood, we analysed data from an accelerated longitudinal neuroimaging study measuring magnetisation transfer (MT), a myelin-sensitive marker, in 288 participants (149 female) between 14 and 25 years of age at baseline. We found that early life economic disadvantage before age 12, measured by a neighbourhood poverty index, was associated with slower myelin growth. This association was observed for magnetization transfer in cortical, subcortical and core white matter regions, and also in key subcortical nuclei. Participant IQ at baseline, alcohol use, body mass index, parental occupation and self-reported parenting quality did not account for these effects, but parental education did so partially. Specifically, positive parenting moderated the effect of socio-economic disadvantage in a protective manner. Thus early socioeconomic disadvantage appears to alter myelin growth across adolescence. This finding has potential translational implications, including clarifying whether reducing socio-economic disadvantage during childhood, and increasing parental education and positive parenting, promote normal trajectories of brain development in economically disadvantaged contexts.
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