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Honors Thesis-Unrestricted

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Tracey Knaus


Socioeconomic status (SES) is defined as a multifaceted index of a person’s financial resources, education, and relative social status and is dictated by parental education, income, and occupation. SES has been known to impact neurocognitive abilities, such as language acquisition and development through distal systems, which includes variations in household income and education. These systems in turn affect language regions in the brain due to disparities in word exposure, exposure to chronic stress, and disparities in the exposure of varying complexity of words, causing language deficits. Language deficits are a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and several studies demonstrate the atypical anatomy of these core language regions. We hypothesized that similar to findings in typically developing children, higher SES will be associated with larger gray matter volume and cortical thickness of frontal and posterior language regions within the ASD population. We found no significant correlation between SES and cortical language anatomy but found relationships between SES and language ability and/frontal gray matter. These results support the literature concerning causal links between SES and language and offer new insight into the intersection between SES, language, and ASD.


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Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023

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