Twelfth International Summer School on Mind, Brain and Education

2017 September 1–7

Neuroscience of poverty

Director of the School: Antonio M. Battro
Director of the Course: Sebastián J. Lipina
Codirectors of the Course: Eric Pakulak, María Soledad Segretin
Management Assistance of the Course: Matías Lopez-Rosenfeld
Program Officer of the School: Lula Majdalani

Perry, Rosemarie
New York University, USA

Rosemarie Perry received B.S. degree in 2010 from the University of Delaware in Neuroscience, and a Ph.D. from New York University School of Medicine in Physiology and Neuroscience in 2016. As a Ph.D. student, she worked in the lab of Dr. Regina Sullivan, studying the effects of early-life stress on the developing brain and behavior throughout the lifespan. She now works in the Neuroscience and Education lab (run by Dr. Clancy Blair and Dr. Cybele Raver) as a postdoctoral researcher. Her current work integrates human research on the impact of poverty with a rodent model of scarcity-adversity, which allows her to study the impact of poverty on development at multiple levels of analyses. Outside of the lab, Rosemarie is passionate about science communication, and serves as Vice President for a nonprofit organization, Know Science Inc.


Poverty and the developing brain: Insights from human and animal research
Children reared in impoverished environments are at risk for many psychological and physical health problems. The specific mechanisms by which poverty affects children’s development, however, remain unclear, due primarily to technical and ethical challenges faced by researchers. While the interface between human and animal research has resulted in rapid advancement of medical sciences, can this cross-disciplinary approach provide similar breakthroughs in social sciences, such as the field of child development? Human research provides rich assessment of the influence of cultural, psychosocial, and biological factors on child outcome, but oftentimes these factors cannot be adequately controlled for the assessment of cause-effect relationships. Furthermore, human research faces ethical, technical, and efficiency challenges when assessing the human brain and behavior across the lifespan. Conversely, animal studies of development provide strong experimental control and manipulation, as well as more time-effective assessments of brain processes and behavior across the lifespan; however, they do not account for the rich complexity of the human condition. Here I will discuss findings from integrative human and animal research related to poverty and child neurobehavioral development. Specifically, I will present cross-species findings from experimental studies using a rodent model of scarcity-adversity, and a longitudinal study of children and families followed from birth (N=1292), over half of whom faced high levels of poverty-related scarcity-adversity. The impact of poverty on parenting, as well as child socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes will be discussed, including candidate neural mechanisms. By highlighting a bidirectional, translational process between human and animal research, the findings and discussion presented here will demonstrate how cross-disciplinary research enables rapid advancement of knowledge related to the neuroscience of poverty.

Literature to share
• Perry, R.W., Blair, C., & Sullivan, R.M. (in press). Neurobiology of infant attachment: Attachment despite adversity and parental programming of emotionality (Current Opinion in Psychology).
• Perry, R.W. (submitted). Introducing a rodent model of poverty: Scarcity-adversity impacts parenting quality and infant outcome in humans and rodents.