We review current findings associating socioeconomic status (SES), development of neurocognitive functions, and neurobiological pathways. A sizeable interdisciplinary literature was organized through a bifurcated developmental trajectory (BiDeT) framework, an account of the external and internal variables associated with low SES that may lead to difficulties with attention and learning, along with buffers that may protect against negative outcomes. A consistent neurocognitive finding is that low-SES children attend to information nonselectively, and engage in late filtering out of task-irrelevant information. Attentional preferences influence the development of latent inhibition (LI), an aspect of learning that involves reassigning meaningful associations to previously learned but irrelevant stimuli. LI reflects learning processes clarifying the relationship between neurobiological mechanisms related to attention and socioeconomic disadvantage during child development. Notably, changes in both selective attention and typical LI development may occur via the mesocorticolimbic dopamine (MsCL-DA) system. Chaotic environments, social isolation, and deprivation associated with low SES trigger stress responses implicating imbalances in the MsCL-DA and consolidating anxiety traits. BiDeT describes plausible interactions between socioemotional traits and low-SES environments that modify selective attention and LI, predisposing individuals to vulnerability in cognitive development and academic achievement. However, positive role models, parental style, and self-regulation training are proposed as potential promoters of resilience.

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Keywords anxiety, latent inhibition, mesocorticolimbic system, role models, selective attention, social deprivation, socioeconomic status, stress
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13369
Journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Schibli, K. (Kylie), Wong, K. (Kyle), Hedayati, N. (Nina), & D'Angiulli, A. (2017). Attending, learning, and socioeconomic disadvantage: developmental cognitive and social neuroscience of resilience and vulnerability. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Vol. 1396, pp. 19–38). doi:10.1111/nyas.13369