Selina Pacheco L&S Social Sciences
Is Mental Health at Stake for High-Achieving Children in Poverty?
Childhood family income is a powerful predictor of academic achievement and mental health. Prior research indicates that children in poverty with better academic performance and more depressive symptomatology tend to have higher temporal coupling between lateral frontoparietal network (LFPN; supports executive functions) and Default Mode Network (DMN; supports internally-directed thought) than lower-performing children in poverty, in direct contrast to the pattern observed for children above poverty. Thus, an open question is whether this pattern of connectivity adaptive for children in poverty has maladaptive long-term consequences, particularly for mental health. This project will analyze whether, among children living in poverty, those who beat the odds by succeeding academically are subsequently either protected from, or more at risk for, internalizing disorders such as anxiety and depression.This research has important implications for supporting children in poverty by illuminating mechanisms for, and potential maladaptive consequences of, their resilience in academic contexts.