Subjective SES is associated with children’s neurophysiological response to auditory oddballs
Anwyl-Irvine AL., Dalmaijer ES., Quinn A., Johnson A., Astle DE.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Language and reading acquisition are strongly associated with a child’s socioeconomic environment (SES). There are a number of potential explanations for this relationship. We explore one potential explanation—a child’s SES is associated with how children discriminate word-like sounds (i.e., phonological processing), a foundational skill for reading acquisition. Magnetoencephalography data from a sample of 71 children (aged 6 years 11 months—12 years 3 months), during a passive auditory oddball task containing word and non-word deviants, were used to test where (which sensors) and when (at what time) any association may occur. We also investigated associations between cognition, education, and this neurophysiological response. We report differences in the neural processing of word and non-word deviant tones at an early N200 component (likely representing early sensory processing) and a later P300 component (likely representing attentional and/or semantic processing). More interestingly we found Parental Subjective SES (the parents rating of their own relative affluence) was convincingly associated with later responses, but there were no significant associations with equivalised income. This suggests that the socioeconomic environment as rated by their parents, is associated with underlying phonological detection skills. Furthermore, this correlation likely occurs at a later time-point in information processing, associated with semantic and attentional processes. In contrast, household income is not significantly associated with these skills. One possibility is that the subjective assessment of SES is more impactful on neural mechanisms of phonological processing than the less complex and more objective measure of household income.</jats:p>