The purpose of the article written by Kim and others in2013, was to examine the impact of childhood poverty on adult amygdala andprefrontal cortex brain activity. Theamygdala and ventrolateral, dorsolateral, and medial prefrontal cortex wereexamined due to 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 at age nine and then determining theirresponse to negative images at the age of twenty-four using functional magneticresonance imaging (fMRI). Additionally,the authors also examined the level of stress the participant experienced fromthe ages of nine to seventeen. Theresults of this study revealed that participants who grew up in a low-incomehousehold showed decreased dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortexactivity as young adults. However, the activityin the amygdala for these individuals was increased. The authors reported that the current incomeof the participant as an adult did not alter these results. Stress experienced by the participant throughthe ages of nine to seventeen was determined by the researchers to function asa mediator, bridging the gap between childhood poverty and modified adult brainactivity. The authors also reported thatparticipants who grew up in a high-income household were found to haveincreased activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex at the age oftwenty-four compared to those who grew up in a low-income household.
Additional brain structures that the authorsreported showing decreased activity levels due to growing up in a low-income householdinclude the precentral gyrus and the superior temporal gyrus. The authors conclude by stating that theresults of their study suggest that the regulation of emotions as young adultsis associated with the family income status of the child, and that thisassociation is mediated by chronic stress experienced throughout childhood.