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Open Neuroimag J. 2009 Aug 18;3:58-63. doi: 10.2174/1874440000903010058.

The impact of socioeconomic status on the neural substrates associated with pleasure.

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Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York USA.


Low socio-economic status (SES) is associated with increased morbidity and premature mortality. Because tonic adversity relates to a diminished ability to experience pleasure, we hypothesized that subjects living in poverty would show diminished neural responsivity to positive stimuli in regions associated with positive experience and reward. Visual images were presented to twenty-two subjects in the context of a EPI-BOLD fMRI paradigm. Significant differences in neural responses between SES groups to poverty vs. neutral images were assessed, examining group, condition, and interaction effects. The data suggest that persons living in low-SES have neural experiences consistent with diminished interest in things generally enjoyed and point toward a possible explanation for the relationship between socioeconomic inequalities and mood disorders, such as depression, by SES.


depression; fMRI; mood; socio-economic status.; stress

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