New paper published by former Ph.D. Student and CPIR Affiliate David Weissman

Dr. Weissman’s paper on the antipoverty programs and income disparities in brain structure and mental health was published by Nature Communications. David Weissman is the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in McLaughlin’s Stress & Development Lab at Harvard University. Former CPIR affiliate Dr. Weissman received his PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Davis, where he worked under the mentorship of CPIR affiliates Dr. Paul Hastings and Dr. Amanda Guyer.

Abstract: Macrostructural characteristics, such as cost of living and state-level anti-poverty programs relate to the magnitude of socioeconomic disparities in brain development and mental health. In this study we leveraged data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study from 10,633 9-11 year old youth (5115 female) across 17 states. Lower income was associated with smaller hippocampal volume and higher internalizing psychopathology. These associations were stronger in states with higher cost of living. However, in high cost of living states that provide more generous cash benefits for low-income families, socioeconomic disparities in hippocampal volume were reduced by 34%, such that the association of family income with hippocampal volume resembled that in the lowest cost of living states. We observed similar patterns for internalizing psychopathology. State-level anti-poverty programs and cost of living may be confounded with other factors related to neurodevelopment and mental health. However, the patterns were robust to controls for numerous state-level social, economic, and political characteristics. These findings suggest that state-level macrostructural characteristics, including the generosity of anti-poverty policies, are potentially relevant for addressing the relationship of low income with brain development and mental health.