Farah, Martha J

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 46
  • Publication
    Law and Neuroscience
    (2013-11-06) Jones, Owen D; Marois, Réne; Farah, Martha J; Greely, Henry
  • Publication
    A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Socioeconomic Status and Executive Function Performance Among Children
    (2018-03-01) Lawson, Gwendolyn M; Hook, Cayce J; Farah, Martha J
    The relation between childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and executive function (EF) has recently attracted attention within psychology, following reports of substantial SES disparities in children’s EF. Adding to the importance of this relation, EF has been proposed as a mediator of socioeconomic disparities in lifelong achievement and health. However, evidence about the relationship between childhood SES and EF is mixed, and there has been no systematic attempt to evaluate this relationship across studies. This meta-analysis systematically reviewed the literature for studies in which samples of children varying in SES were evaluated on EF, including studies with and without primary hypotheses about SES. The analysis included 8,760 children between the ages of 2 and 18 gathered from 25 independent samples. Analyses showed a small but statistically significant correlation between SES and EF across all studies (r random = .16, 95% CI [.12, .21]) without correcting for attenuation due to range restriction or measurement unreliability. Substantial heterogeneity was observed between studies, and a number of factors, including the amount of SES variability in the sample and the number of EF measures used, emerged as moderators. Using only the 15 studies with meaningful SES variability in the sample, the average correlation between SES and EF was small-to-medium in size (r random = .22, 95% CI [.17, .27]). Using only the 6 studies with multiple measures of EF, the relationship was medium in size (r random = .28, 95% CI [.18-.37]). In sum, this meta-analysis supports the presence of SES disparities in EF and suggests that they are between small and medium in size, depending on the methods used to measure them.
  • Publication
    Effect of Socioeconomic Status (SES) Disparity on Neural Development in Female African-American Infants at 1 Month
    (2016-11-01) Avants, Brian B; Betancourt, Laura; Farah, Martha J; Brodsky, Nancy L.; Wu, Jue; Ashtari, Manzar; Hurt, Hallam
    There is increasing interest in both the cumulative and long term impact of early life adversity on brain structure and function, especially as the brain is both highly vulnerable and highly adaptive during childhood. Relationships between SES and neural development have been shown in children older than age two years. Less is known regarding the impact of SES on neural development in children before age two. This paper examines the effect of SES, indexed by income-to-needs (ITN) and maternal education, on cortical, deep gray, and white matter volumes in term, healthy, appropriate for gestational age, African American, female infants. At 44-46 post-conception weeks, unsedated infants underwent MRI (3.0T Siemens Verio scanner, 32-channel head coil). Images were segmented based on a locally-constructed template. Utilizing hierarchical linear regression, overall and component (maternal education and ITN) SES effects on MRI volumes were examined. In this cohort of healthy African American infants of varying SES, lower SES was associated with smaller cortical gray and deep gray matter volumes. These SES effects on neural outcome at such a young age build on similar studies of older children, suggesting that the biological embedding of adversity may occur very early in development.
  • Publication
    Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Executive Function in Childhood and Beyond
    (2018-08-24) Lawson, Gwendolyn M.; Last, Briana S.; Breiner, Kaitlyn; Farah, Martha J; Steinberg, Laurence
    Socioeconomic status (SES) predicts health, wellbeing, and cognitive ability, including executive function (EF). A body of recent work has shown that childhood SES is positively related to EF, but it is not known whether this disparity grows, diminishes or holds steady over development, from childhood through adulthood. We examined the association between childhood SES and EF in a sample ranging from 9–25 years of age, with six canonical EF tasks. Analyzing all of the tasks together and in functionally defined groups, we found positive relations between SES and EF, and the relations did not vary by age. Analyzing the tasks separately, SES was positively associated with performance in some but not all EF measures, depending on the covariates used, again without varying by age. These results add to a growing body of evidence that childhood SES is associated with EF abilities, and contribute novel evidence concerning the persistence of this association into early adulthood.
  • Publication
    Socioeconomic status and the brain: prospects for neuroscience-informed policy
    (2018-06-01) Farah, Martha J
    Socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with health (physical and mental) and cognitive ability. Understanding and ameliorating the problems of low SES have long been goals of economics and sociology; in recent years, these have also become goals of neuroscience. However, opinion varies widely on the relevance of neuroscience to SES-related policy. The present article addresses the question of whether and how neuroscience can contribute to the development of social policy concerning poverty and the social and ethical risks inherent in trying. I argue that the neuroscience approach to SES-related policy has been both prematurely celebrated and peremptorily dismissed and that some of its possible social impacts have been viewed with excessive alarm. Neuroscience has already made modest contributions to SES-related policy, and its potential to have a more effective and beneficial influence can be expected to grow over the coming years.
  • Publication
    Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy
    (2008-12-07) Greely, Henry; Campbell, Philip; Sahakian, Barbara; Harris, John; Farah, Martha J.; Kessler, Ronald C.; Gazzaniga, Michael
    In this article, we propose actions that will help society accept the benefits of enhancement, given appropriate research and evolved regulation. Prescription drugs are regulated as such not for their enhancing properties but primarily for considerations of safety and potential abuse. Still, cognitive enhancement has much to offer individuals and society, and a proper societal response will involve making enhancements available while managing their risks.
  • Publication
    Functional MRI-Based Lie Detection: Scientific and Societal Challenges
    (2014-01-01) Farah, Martha J; Hutchinson, J. Benjamin; Phelps, Elizabeth A; Wagner, Anthony D
    Functional MRI (fMRI)-based lie detection has been marketed as a tool for enhancing personnel selection, strengthening national security and protecting personal reputations, and at least three US courts have been asked to admit the results of lie detection scans as evidence during trials. How well does fMRI-based lie detection perform, and how should the courts, and society more generally, respond? Here, we address various questions — some of which are based on a meta-analysis of published studies — concerning the scientific state of the art in fMRI-based lie detection and its legal status, and discuss broader ethical and societal implications. We close with three general policy recommendations.
  • Publication
    Relation of Childhood Home Environment to Cortical Thickness in Late Adolescence: Specificity of Experience and Timing
    (2015-10-28) Avants, Brian B; Hackman, Daniel A; Betancourt, Laura; Lawson, Gwendolyn M; Farah, Martha J.; Hurt, Hallam
    What are the long-term effects of childhood experience on brain development? Research with animals shows that the quality of environmental stimulation and parental nurturance both play important roles in shaping lifelong brain structure and function. Human research has so far been limited to the effects of abnormal experience and pathological development. Using a unique longitudinal dataset of in-home measures of childhood experience at ages 4 and 8 and MRI acquired in late adolescence, we were able to relate normal variation in childhood experience to later life cortical thickness. Environmental stimulation at age 4 predicted cortical thickness in a set of automatically derived regions in temporal and prefrontal cortex. In contrast, age 8 experience was not predictive. Parental nurturance was not predictive at either age. This work reveals an association between childhood experience and later brain structure that is specific relative to aspects of experience, regions of brain, and timing.
  • Publication
    Morality: My brain made me do it
    (2010-10-22) Farah, Martha J.
  • Publication
    Response to Open Peer Commentaries on "Personhood and Neuroscience: Naturalizing or Nihilating?": Getting Personal
    (2007-06-01) Farah, Martha J.; Heberlein, Andrea S
    Personhood is a foundational concept in ethics, yet defining criteria have been elusive. In this article we summarize attempts to define personhood in psychological and neurological terms and conclude that none manage to be both specific and non-arbitrary. We propose that this is because the concept does not correspond to any real category of objects in the world. Rather, it is the product of an evolved brain system that develops innately and projects itself automatically and irrepressibly onto the world whenever triggered by stimulus features such as a human-like face, body, or contingent patterns of behavior. We review the evidence for the existence of an autonomous person network in the brain and discuss its implications for the field of ethics and for the implicit morality of everyday behavior.