Socioeconomic Health Disparities as a Problem for Neuroscience

Monday, April 22, 2013

Peter Gianaros

Associate Professor, Psychology
University of Pittsburgh

Socioeconomic disadvantage confers risk for ill health. Historically, the mechanisms by which socioeconomic disadvantage may affect health have been viewed from epidemiological perspectives. Such perspectives, however, have not yet formally integrated emerging findings from neuroscience studies demonstrating that socioeconomic indicators relate to patterns of brain neurotransmission, brain morphology, and brain functionality implicated in the etiology of chronic medical conditions and psychological disorders. This talk will highlight findings from a program of health neuroscience research aimed at understanding how the brain might link socioeconomic disadvantage to health and profiles of disease risk. Also discussed will be open questions that, if answered, will paint a more complete mechanistic picture of how socioeconomic disadvantage becomes embodied by the brain to affect health throughout life, which has relevance for efforts to inform social policies and advance interventions and preventative strategies aimed at reducing social health disparities.

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