The Neuroscience of Socioeconomic Status: Correlates, Causes, and Consequences

Neuron. 2017 Sep 27;96(1):56-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.08.034.


Human beings differ in their socioeconomic status (SES), with accompanying differences in physical and mental health as well as cognitive ability. Although SES has long been used as a covariate in human brain research, in recognition of its potential to account for behavioral and neural differences among people, only recently have neuroscientists made SES a topic of research in its own right. How does SES manifest in the brain, and how do its neural correlates relate to the causes and consequences of SES? This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding these questions. Particular challenges of research on the neuroscience of SES are discussed, and the relevance of this topic to neuroscience more generally is considered.

Keywords: cognition; development; health disparities; hippocampus; individual differences; morphometry; poverty; socioeconomic status; stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Neurosciences*
  • Social Class*