The purpose of the article written by Kim and others in2013, was to examine the impact of childhood poverty on adult amygdala andprefrontal cortex activity. The amygdalaand ventrolateral, dorsolateral, and medial prefrontal cortex were examined dueto their association in the processing of emotions. The amygdala is involved in the emotional responseof the individual, while the prefrontal cortex has been found to act as a regulatorof the amygdala. The study was conductedby recording the participant’s family income level at the age of nine and thendetermining their response to negative images at the age of twenty-four usingfunctional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Additionally, the authors also documented thelevel of stress the participant experienced from the ages of nine to seventeen.
The results of this study revealed that participantswho grew up in a low-income household showed decreased dorsolateral andventrolateral prefrontal cortex activity as young adults. However, the activity in the amygdala forthese individuals was increased. Theauthors reported that the current income of the participant as an adult did notalter these results. Stress experiencedby the participant through the ages of nine to seventeen was determined by theresearchers to function as a mediator, bridging the gap between childhoodpoverty and modified adult brain activity.
The authors also reported that participants who grew up in a high-incomehousehold were found to have increased activity in the ventrolateral prefrontalcortex at the age of twenty-four compared to those who grew up in a low-incomehousehold. Additional brain structuresthat the authors reported as showing decreased activity levels due to growingup in a low-income household include the precentral gyrus and the superiortemporal gyrus. The authors conclude bystating that the results of their study suggest that the ability to regulateemotions as a young adult can be affected by family income status as a child,and that this association is mediated by chronic stress experienced throughoutchildhood.