Research Topic

The social emotional developmental and cognitive neuroscience of socioeconomic gradients: Laboratory, population, cross-cultural and community developmental approaches

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic is cross-listed in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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This Research Topic is cross-listed in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

The study of the socioeconomic neural gradients, that is, functional and structural brain differences that correspond to variations in socioeconomic status, is a very young area of multidisciplinary research within the neural and behavior sciences. Although a general consensus of basic results is quickly emerging, as in any emerging area of inquiry, the approaches used within it can still be influenced by epistemological or ideological stances inherited from other disciplines (and potentially implicit ideological systems). Inadvertently, these influences can lead this critically important new area of research to methodological and ethical foundational challenges and issues that are in need of debate over and beyond consensus on interventions aiming at the effects of poverty on children’s development (e.g., poverty definition criteria, lack of specificity when considering child poverty in terms of how children experience different type of deprivations, or lack of critics regarding social exclusion in different countries). The risk is a tendency to simplify the complexity that characterizes both phenomena of development and social inequality. The overarching aim of this broad research topic is to give the full spectrum of views on the study of socioeconomic neural differences representing comparatively the best examples of research in the field from different methodological stances (i.e., laboratory vs. field) and theoretical approaches (i.e., mechanistic vs. adaptive). The unitary background framework provided as test bench for the comparisons is human brain development in the broadest sense of the term.

The aim of this research topic is to portray the current status in different disciplines addressing social inequities and human brain development. The main purpose is to house a rich global international critical and synthetic debate with focus on empirical research updates, implications and challenges in Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Social Sciences and interdisciplinary arena efforts. In this context, the contributions will represent four strategic domains: (1) Cognitive Neuroscience (behavioral and neuroimaging findings in different countries and their implications at social development and educational levels); (2) Social Sciences -Economy, Anthropology/Sociology, Education (updating scientific, ethical and ideological issues on social inequities worldwide, addressing the challenges we are facing: complexity, interdisciplinary efforts); and (3) Interdisciplinary efforts (scientific and policy priorities for the next decade); (4) Neuropsychoendocrinology (relationships between social context and acute/chronic stress across the world).

Submissions pertinent to this research topic may include (but not be limited to): Examples of population based approaches currently in place: epidemiological studies, large scale studies on administrative school and health; populations based studies in need of being conducted: large scale brain (EEGs, MRI) assessments to debunk the myth of deficiency in vulnerable populations and studies that draw attention to the need to reform societies not intervene on individuals; reduction of social inequality that is the result of deficits in social structures; large scale assessment of community mental health among groups of children sharing common environmental features rather than recruiting unrelated individual children into a sample; in-depth neuroethical, epistemological and sociological analysis of structural influences (e.g., schools, childcare) and their influences on vulnerable groups from a population perspective rather than the effects of the individual child; neuroimaging studies (perspectives, reviews, and empirical rese


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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