Cingulo-opercular and Cingulo-parietal Brain Networks Functional Connectivity in Pre-adolescents: Multiplicative Effects of Race, Ethnicity, and Parental Education

Res Health Sci. 2021;6(2):76-99. doi: 10.22158/rhs.v6n2p76.


Introduction: A growing body of research has shown a diminished association between socioeconomic status (SES) indicators and a wide range of neuroimaging indicators for racial and ethnic minorities compared to majority groups. However, less is known about these effects for resting-state functional connectivity between various brain networks.

Purpose: This study investigated racial and ethnic variation in the correlation between parental education and resting-state functional connectivity between the cingulo-opercular (CO) and cingulo-parietal (CP) networks in children.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study; we analyzed the resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (rsfMRI) data of 8,464 American pre-adolescents between the ages of 9 and 10. The main outcome measured was resting-state functional connectivity between the CO and CP networks calculated using rsfMRI. The independent variable was parental education, which was treated as a nominal variable. Age, sex, and family marital status were the study covariates. Race and ethnicity were the moderators. Mixed-effects regression models were used for data analysis, with and without interaction terms between parental education and race and ethnicity.

Results: Higher parental education was associated with higher resting-state functional connectivity between the CO and CP networks. Race and ethnicity both showed statistically significant interactions with parental education on children's resting-state functional connectivity between CO and CP networks, suggesting that the correlation between parental education and the resting-state functional connectivity was significantly weaker for Black and Hispanic pre-adolescents compared to White and non-Hispanic pre-adolescents.

Conclusions: In line with the Minorities' Diminished Returns theory, the association between parental education and pre-adolescents resting-state functional connectivity between CO and CP networks may be weaker in Black and Hispanic children than in White and non-Hispanic children. The weaker link between parental education and brain functional connectivity for Blacks and Hispanics than for Whites and non-Hispanics may reflect racism, racialization, and social stratification that collectively minimize the returns of SES indicators, such as parental education for non-Whites, who become others in the US.

Keywords: MRI; brain development; functional MRI; functional connectivity; parental education; pre-adolescents; socioeconomic status; youth.