Stunting in infancy is associated with atypical activation of working memory and attention networks

Wijeakumar, Sobanawartiny, Forbes, Samuel H., Magnotta, Vincent A., Deoni, Sean, Jackson, Kiara, Singh, Vinay P., Tiwari, Madhuri, Kumar, Aarti and Spencer, John P. ORCID: (2023) Stunting in infancy is associated with atypical activation of working memory and attention networks. Nature Human Behaviour. ISSN 2397-3374 (In Press)

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Stunting is associated with poor long-term cognitive, academic, and economic outcomes, yet the mechanisms through which stunting impacts cognition in early development remain unknown. In a first-ever neuroimaging study conducted in infants from rural India, we demonstrate that stunting impacts a critical, early-developing cognitive system – visual working memory (VWM). Stunted infants showed poor VWM performance and were easily distractible. Poor performance was associated with reduced engagement of the left anterior intraparietal sulcus (laIPS), a region involved in VWM maintenance, and greater suppression in the right temporo-parietal junction, a region involved in attentional shifting. When assessed one year later, stunted infants had lower problem-solving scores, while normal height infants with greater laIPS activation showed higher problem-solving scores. Finally, short-for-age infants with poor physical growth indices but good VWM performance showed more positive outcomes suggesting that intervention efforts should focus on improving working memory and reducing distractibility in infancy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Data availability: All final data used in statistical analyses will be publicly available on Github following publication. All raw and processed fNIRS data will be available by agreement through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fNIRS Consortium hosted by Yale University/Haskins Laboratory. Code availability: fNIRS analyses pipeline is publicly available under All code and revisions will be publicly available on Github following publication. Acknowledgements and funding sources: This work was supported by Grant No. OPP1164153 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Grant No. R01HD083287 from the National Institutes of Health awarded to J. P. Spencer, Grant No. RPG-2019-286 from the Leverhulme Trust awarded to S. Wijeakumar, and NIH Grant P50HD103556 awarded to V.A. Magnotta.
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Developmental Science
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2023 11:30
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2023 11:30

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