262410 Exploring Parenting as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Executive Function

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tamiko Younge , Joint Medical Program, UC Berkeley-UCSF, Berkeley, CA
Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH , Joint Medical Program, UC Berkeley - UCSF, Berkeley, CA
Self-regulation is an important developmental task and predictor of future health and success in life. Executive function (EF), considered the neurological substrate of self-regulation, describes late-developing cognitive skills controlled by the prefreontal cortex involved in goal-directed behavior. Well-described socioeconomic differences in EF are thought to contribute to health disparities and intergenerational transmission of poverty. How the environment may facilitate development of these skills has yet to be elucidated. This exploratory analysis investigated various parenting behaviors as modifiers of the socioeconomic gradient of EF. Participants included 60 parent-child dyads with children aged 7-12 years. Income-to-needs ratio (ITNR) was used as an indicator of SES. Children completed three EF tasks that broadly tested cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control. Six variables of parenting were evaluated during observed parent-child interactions. ANOVA revealed near statistically significant variance of cognitive flexibility by dyadic positive affect (p=0.06, df=58, R2=0.124), working memory by parent positive responsiveness (p=0.07, df=58, R2=0.120), and inhibitory control by quality of parent assistance (p=0.08, df=57, R2=0.115). INTR differed significantly by quality of parent assistance (p=0.02, df=58, R2=0.171). Linear regression analysis demonstrated a positive relationship between increasing INTR and inhibitory control (p=0.009, β=1.51, 95% CI=0.40, 2.63, R2=0.114). There was no evidence that parent assistance modified this relationship. Findings demonstrate associations between parenting behavior, EF, and SES. Although causality has yet to be demonstrated, there is evidence to suspect that interventions targeting parenting could enhance EF development, positively alter developmental trajectories, and improve future life outcomes, particularly for low SES children.

Learning Areas:
Basic medical science applied in public health
Environmental health sciences
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Analyze characteristics of parenting as a moderator to the socioeconmic gradient of executive function during middle childhood.

Keywords: Children's Health, Social Class

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a Masters degree seeking student in the school of public health, I conducted the data analysis with the support of my thesis adviser, Dr. Douglas Jutte.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.