Effect of hippocampal and amygdala connectivity on the relationship between preschool poverty and school-age depression

Deanna Barch, David Pagliaccio, Andy Belden, Michael P. Harms, Michael Gaffrey, Chad M. Sylvester, Rebecca Tillman, Joan Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Objective: Inthis study, theauthors tested the hypothesis that poverty experienced in early childhood, as measured by income-to-needs ratio, has an impact on functional brain connectivity atschool age, which inturn mediates influences on child negative mood/depression. Method: Participants were from a prospective longitudinal study of emotion development. Preschoolers 3-5 years of age were originally ascertained from primary care and day care sites in the St. Louis area and then underwent annual behavioral assessments for upto 12 years. Healthy preschoolers and those with a history of depression symptoms underwent neuroimaging at school age. Using functional MRI, the authors examined whole brain resting-state functional connectivity with the left and right hippocampus and amygdala. Results: Lower income-to-needs ratio at preschool age was associated with reduced connectivity between hippocampus and amygdala and a number of regions at school age, including the superior frontal cortex, lingual gyrus, posterior cingulate, and putamen. Lower income-to-needs ratio predicted greater negative mood/depression severity at school age, as did connectivity between the left hippocampus and the right superior frontal cortex and between the right amygdala and the right lingual gyrus. Connectivity mediated the relationship between incometo-needs ratio and negative mood/depression at the time of scanning. Conclusions: These findings suggest that poverty in early childhood, as assessed by at least one measure, may influence the development of hippocampal and amygdala connectivity in a manner leading to negative mood symptoms during later childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


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