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Neurobiology of Stress

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Nearly 14 percent of Americans live in a socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood. Lower individual socioeconomic position (iSEP) has been linked to increased exposure to trauma and stress, as well as to alterations in brain structure and function; however, the neural effects of neighborhood SEP (nSEP) factors, such as neighborhood disadvantage, are unclear. Using a multi-modal approach with participants who recently experienced a traumatic injury (N = 185), we investigated the impact of neighborhood disadvantage, acute post-traumatic stress symptoms, and iSEP on brain structure and functional connectivity at rest. After controlling for iSEP, demographic variables, and acute PTSD symptoms, nSEP was associated with decreased volume and alterations of resting-state functional connectivity in structures implicated in affective processing, including the insula, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. Even in individuals who have recently experienced a traumatic injury, and after accounting for iSEP, the impact of living in a disadvantaged neighborhood is apparent, particularly in brain regions critical for experiencing and regulating emotion. These results should inform future research investigating how various levels of socioeconomic circumstances may impact recovery after a traumatic injury as well as policies and community-developed interventions aimed at reducing the impact of socioeconomic stressors.


Published version. Neurobiology of Stress, Vol. 15 (November 2021): 100385. DOI. © 2021 The Authors published by Elsevier. Used with permission.

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