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Associations between children's socioeconomic status and prefrontal cortical thickness


Address for correspondence: Gwendolyn M. Lawson or Martha J. Farah, 3720 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; e-mail: or


Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) predicts executive function performance and measures of prefrontal cortical function, but little is known about its anatomical correlates. Structural MRI and demographic data from a sample of 283 healthy children from the NIH MRI Study of Normal Brain Development were used to investigate the relationship between SES and prefrontal cortical thickness. Specifically, we assessed the association between two principal measures of childhood SES, family income and parental education, and gray matter thickness in specific subregions of prefrontal cortex and on the asymmetry of these areas. After correcting for multiple comparisons and controlling for potentially confounding variables, parental education significantly predicted cortical thickness in the right anterior cingulate gyrus and left superior frontal gyrus. These results suggest that brain structure in frontal regions may provide a meaningful link between SES and cognitive function among healthy, typically developing children.