Children in foster care have often encountered a range of adverse experiences, including neglectful and/or abusive care and multiple caregiver transitions. Prior research findings suggest that such experiences negatively affect inhibitory control and the underlying neural circuitry. In the current study, event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was employed during a go/no go task that assesses inhibitory control to compare the behavioral performance and brain activation of foster children and nonmaltreated children. The sample included two groups of 9- to 12-year-old children: 11 maltreated foster children and 11 nonmaltreated children living with their biological parents. There were no significant group differences on behavioral performance on the task. In contrast, patterns of brain activation differed by group. The nonmaltreated children demonstrated stronger activation than did the foster children across several regions, including the right anterior cingulate cortex, the middle frontal gyrus, and the right lingual gyrus, during correct no go trials, whereas the foster children displayed stronger activation than the nonmaltreated children in the left inferior parietal lobule and the right superior occipital cortex, including the lingual gyrus and cuneus, during incorrect no go trials. These results provide preliminary evidence that the early adversity experienced by foster children impacts the neural substrates of inhibitory control.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health