Frontal EEG/ERP correlates of attentional processes, cortisol and
motivational states in adolescents from lower and higher socioeconomic
Amedeo D’Angiulli, Patricia Van Roon, Joanne Weinberg, Tim F. Oberlander, Ruth E. Grunau, Clyde Hertzman, Stefania Maggi
Event-related potentials (ERPs) and other electroencephalographic (EEG) evidence show that<br />32 frontal brain areas of higher and lower socioeconomic status (SES) children are recruited<br />33 differently during selective attention tasks. We assessed whether multiple variables related to<br />34 self-regulation (perceived mental effort) emotional states (e.g., anxiety, stress, etc.) and<br />35 motivational states (e.g., boredom, engagement, etc.) may co-occur or interact with frontal<br />36 attentional processing probed in two matched-samples of fourteen lower-SES and higher-SES<br />37 adolescents. ERP and EEG activation were measured during a task probing selective attention to<br />38 sequences of tones. Pre- and post-task salivary cortisol and self-reported emotional states were<br />39 also measured. At similar performance level, the higher-SES group showed a greater ERP<br />40 differentiation between attended (relevant) and unattended (irrelevant) tones than the lower-SES<br />41 group. EEG power analysis revealed a cross-over interaction, specifically, lower-SES<br />42 adolescents showed significantly higher theta power when ignoring rather than attending to<br />43 tones, whereas, higher-SES adolescents showed the opposite pattern. Significant theta<br />44 asymmetry differences were also found at midfrontal electrodes indicating left hypo-activity in<br />45 lower-SES adolescents. The attended vs. unattended difference in right midfrontal theta<br />46 increased with individual SES rank, and (independently from SES) with lower cortisol task<br />47 reactivity and higher boredom. Results suggest lower-SES children used additional<br />48 compensatory resources to monitor/control response inhibition to distracters, perceiving also<br />49 more mental effort, as compared to higher-SES counterparts. Nevertheless, stress, boredom and<br />50 other task-related perceived states were unrelated to SES. Ruling out presumed confounds, this<br />51 study confirms the midfrontal mechanisms responsible for the SES effects on selective attention<br />52 reported previously and here reflect genuine cognitive differences.
Socioeconomic status, event-related potentials (ERPs), EEG power, EEG 58 asymmetry, auditory selective attention, salivary cortisol and executive control and self-regulation.
Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2012; XX(XX):XX.