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Keywords:

  • self-regulation;
  • stress;
  • poverty

Abstract— This article considers the effects of psychosocial stress on child development and describes mechanisms through which early stress in the context of poverty affects the functioning of neural networks that underlie executive functions and self-regulation. It examines the effects of early experience on glucocorticoid and catecholamine levels that influence neural activity in areas of the brain associated with executive functions, primarily as studied in animal models. Finally, it considers the strengths and limitations of this research, its relevance to understanding stress reactivity from the perspective of biological sensitivity to context, and the implications for the study of risk and resilience processes and early intervention to prevent developmental delays.