Differential relationships between personal and community stressors and children's neurocognitive functioning

Child Maltreat. 2009 Nov;14(4):299-315. doi: 10.1177/1077559508326355. Epub 2008 Oct 29.


Early adversity can alter development of neurocognition, including executive cognitive and emotional regulatory functions. This is the first study to explore differential relationships between personal (physical and emotional abuse and neglect, school and parental stressors) and community (neighborhood problems and witnessing neighborhood violence) stressors and neurocognition. Predominantly Latino children (n = 553) aged 10 to 12 years completed tasks measuring intelligence, impulsivity, problem solving, cognitive flexibility, decision making, and emotion attributions. Adjusting for age and parent education, bivariate regression analyses found exposure to personal stressors to be associated with relative deficits in at least one neurocognitive function. Community stressors were related to relative deficits in emotion attributions and problem solving. In multivariate analyses, neglect was related to misattributions of emotion and IQ deficits, and physical abuse was related to problem solving. Community stressors were not correlated with neurocognition when viewed relative to personal stressors. Stressor types were differentially associated with performance on specific neurocognitive tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / ethnology*
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / ethnology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / ethnology
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Life Change Events*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personal Construct Theory
  • Problem Solving
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Violence / ethnology*
  • Violence / psychology*