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Structural and Functional Brain Correlates of Socioeconomic Status Across the Life Span: A Systematic Review.

It is well-established that higher socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with improved brain health. However, the effects of SES across different life stages on brain structure and function is still equivocal. In this systematic review, we aimed to synthesise findings from life course neuroimaging studies that investigated the structural and functional brain correlates of SES across the life span. The results indicated that higher SES across different life stages were independently and cumulatively related to neural outcomes typically reflective of greater brain health (e.g., increased cortical thickness, grey matter volume, fractional anisotropy, and network segregation) in adult individuals. The results also demonstrated that the corticolimbic system was most commonly impacted by socioeconomic disadvantages across the life span. This review highlights the importance of taking into account SES across the life span when studying its effects on brain health. It also provides directions for future research including the need for longitudinal and multimodal research that can inform effective policy interventions tailored to specific life stages.

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