Population-based neuroscience offers opportunities to examine important but understudied sociocultural factors, such as acculturation. Acculturation refers to the extent to which an individual retains their cultural heritage and/or adopts the receiving society’s culture and is particularly salient among Hispanic/Latinx immigrants.
Acculturation has been linked to vulnerability to substance use, depression, and suicide and is known to influence family dynamics between caregivers and their children.
Methods: We investigated first- and second-generation Hispanic/Latinx caregivers in the ABCD Study and examined how caregivers’ acculturative orientation impacts their mental health, as well as the mental health and brain function of their children.
Neuroimaging analyses focused on regions associated with self- and affiliation-based social processing (ventromedial prefrontal cortex, insula, and temporoparietal junction).
Results: We identified two profiles of caregiver acculturation: bicultural (retains heritage culture while adopting US culture) and detached (discards heritage culture and rejects US culture).
Bicultural caregivers exhibited fewer internalizing and externalizing problems compared to detached caregivers; further, youth exhibited similar internalizing effects across caregiver profiles.
In addition, youth with bicultural caregivers displayed increased resting-state brain activity (i.e., fALFF and ReHo) in the left insula, which has been linked to psychopathology; however, differences in long-range functional connectivity were not significant.
Conclusions: Caregiver acculturation is an important familial factor linked to significant differences in youth mental health and insula activity.
Future work should examine sociocultural and neurodevelopmental changes across adolescence to assess long-term outcomes and determine whether localized, corticolimbic brain effects are ultimately translated into long-range connectivity differences.