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Biologically embedded experiences alter developmental trajectories in ways that can influence health, learning, and/or behavior. These systematic differences in experiences may contribute to different biological outcomes as individuals grow and develop, including at the neural level. Previous studies of biologically embedded experiences on neurodevelopment have focused on large-scale institutional or economic factors (e.g., socioeconomic status (SES)) and psychosocial factors (e.g., caregiving behavior). Less attention has focused on how the quality of the immediate home settings, such as the physical home environment (PHYS), influences neurodevelopment. Moreover, no study has investigated these effects in adolescents, who undergo significant physical maturation and neurodevelopment that may influence how they respond to their physical environments. The goal of the current study was to examine whether PHYS quality is biologically embedded in the developing adolescent brain as evidenced by cognitive achievement and cortical development in 56 (48% female) healthy adolescents (14 to 18 years (M = 16.83 years, SD = 1.17). Using in-home assessments of the physical home environment, anatomical brain scans, and indices of academic achievement, we found that adolescents who have more physical problems in the home (e.g., structural hazards, crowding, excessive noise, poorly lit) have thinner prefrontal cortices, which was associated with lower levels of reading achievement, independent of SES and psychosocial factors. By conducting home visits to assess physical characteristics of adolescents' home, we highlight a typically overlooked aspect of the home environment that has relevance for adolescents' cognitive and brain development. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Developmental science
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