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

Rueda, M. Rosario
Universidad de Granada, Spain

M. Rosario (Charo) Rueda is associate professor of cognitive neuroscience in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Granada, in Spain. She graduated in Psychology at the University of Granada in 1995, and got a PhD on Experimental Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UGR in the year 2000. From 2001 to 2004, she worked as a post-doc research associate at the University of Oregon (Eugene, USA) spending also some months at the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology (NY, USA). At the fall of 2004 she returned to the UGR as an associate researcher, and became a tenure associate professor in the year 2010. She has also spent extended periods as visiting professor in several labs (DevCogNeuro Lab at Georgetown University, USA; Attention, Brain and Cognitive Dev Lab at University of Oxford, UK) around the world. Currently, Charo runs the Developmental CogNeuro Lab at the Center for Research on Mind, Brain and Behavior (CIMCYC) at the UGR in Spain. She is primarily interested in studying the development of attention and self-regulation during childhood, as well as factors that influence such development, including environmental (e.g. parenting and socio-economic status), educational (e.g. cognitive training) and constitutional (e.g. temperament and genes) variables.


Impact of poverty in the early development of executive attention
Executive attention refers to the neuro-cognitive system involved in the regulation of attention and actions in voluntary effortful mode, which has been associated with the function of a network of brain areas with a main node in the anterior cingulate cortex. The control of attention is key to learning and constitutes a fundamental mechanism for the development of behavioral self-regulation. Previous research has shown the predictive power of this cognitive skill for many life outcomes, including school achievement and socialization in childhood, as well as health, and professional success in adulthood. Executive attention development starts in the first year of life and shows a major growth spurt during the pre-school years. In this talk, I will present data of a longitudinal study run with babies from 9 to 36 months of age in which cognitive and brain makers of executive attention were examined and contrasted in function of the socio-economic status of the family. Findings reveal a significant impact of poverty on both cognitive and brain markers of this important skill from very early on.

Literature to share
• Conejero, A., Guerra, S., Abundis-Gutiérrez, A., & Rueda, M.R. (2016). Frontal theta activation associated with error detection in toddlers: Influence of familial socioeconomic status. Developmental Science, doi: 10.1111/desc.12494
• Rueda, M.R., & Cómbita, L.M. (2013). The nature and nurture of executive attention development. Chapter 2 in Cognition and brain development: Converging evidence from various methodologies (B.R. Kar, Ed.). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.