This research seeks to understand the relations among socioeconomic status (SES), early life experience, and learning in adolescents. Previous research has shown that learning ability is positively correlated with SES, and preliminary studies suggest that the effects of childhood experience on hippocampal development may in part account for this. The present research will test hypotheses concerning the nature and causes of the SES disparity in learning ability by examining its scope and limits across different types of learning and different neural systems, and assessing its relation to early experience, including stress, stress-buffering parental nurturing and related constructs. The relation of these laboratory-based measures to student learning in school will also be investigated. The methods to be used include (a) behavioral tasks, developed within the multiple memory systems framework of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, to assess different forms of memory, (b) structural and functional neuroimaging studies of memory systems and (c) prospectively collected data on childhood experience and SES from a longitudinal study of adolescent participants. The relevance of this research to the mission of NIH lies in the crucial role played by learning in the academic, occupational and personal lives of all Americans, and the prospect of preserving and fostering the learning ability in at-risk youth though the application of insights from the cognitive neuroscience of memory, stress, and early experience.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
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Freund, Lisa S
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University of Pennsylvania
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Lawson, Gwendolyn M; Farah, Martha J (2017) Executive Function as a Mediator Between SES and Academic Achievement Throughout Childhood. Int J Behav Dev 41:94-104
Avants, Brian B; Hackman, Daniel A; Betancourt, Laura M et al. (2015) Relation of Childhood Home Environment to Cortical Thickness in Late Adolescence: Specificity of Experience and Timing. PLoS One 10:e0138217
Hackman, Daniel A; Gallop, Robert; Evans, Gary W et al. (2015) Socioeconomic status and executive function: developmental trajectories and mediation. Dev Sci 18:686-702
Farah, Martha J; Hutchinson, J Benjamin; Phelps, Elizabeth A et al. (2014) Functional MRI-based lie detection: scientific and societal challenges. Nat Rev Neurosci 15:123-31
Hackman, Daniel A; Betancourt, Laura M; Gallop, Robert et al. (2014) Mapping the trajectory of socioeconomic disparity in working memory: parental and neighborhood factors. Child Dev 85:1433-45
Lawson, Gwendolyn M; Duda, Jeffrey T; Avants, Brian B et al. (2013) Associations between children's socioeconomic status and prefrontal cortical thickness. Dev Sci 16:641-52
Hackman, Daniel A; Betancourt, Laura M; Brodsky, Nancy L et al. (2013) Selective impact of early parental responsivity on adolescent stress reactivity. PLoS One 8:e58250
Hook, Cayce J; Farah, Martha J (2013) Look again: effects of brain images and mind-brain dualism on lay evaluations of research. J Cogn Neurosci 25:1397-405
Farah, Martha J; Gillihan, Seth J (2012) The Puzzle of Neuroimaging and Psychiatric Diagnosis: Technology and Nosology in an Evolving Discipline. AJOB Neurosci 3:31-41
Smith, M Elizabeth; Farah, Martha J (2011) Are prescription stimulants ""smart pills""? The epidemiology and cognitive neuroscience of prescription stimulant use by normal healthy individuals. Psychol Bull 137:717-41

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