Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Marjorie Beeghly


The purpose of this study was to determine if early social deprivation led to different patterns of frontal and/or medial-temporal cortical connectivity in internationally adopted children and if these patterns of cortical connectivity were related to specific white matter tract or behavioral differences. Based on theories of brain development, it was expected that environmental factors would impact children's tract based differences and behavioral differences. A sample of 30 internationally adopted children and 12 comparison children participated in functional and structural imaging and a neuropsychological evaluation. For internationally adopted children frontal-cortical connectivity showed patterns of diffuse and low connectivity, whereas medial-temporal cortical connectivity showed patterns of diffuse and "normal" connectivity. Patterns of cortical connectivity were related several specific tract based differences and rates of internalizing problems. Tract based differences were the best indictor of emotional, behavioral, and executive functioning, with differed for the right medial-temporal to anterior- temporal, left medial-temporal to frontal, and left striatal-frontal tracts. Cortical connectivity differences were associated with length of time in adoptive home, but only for the medial-temporal tract. The results of this study support the theories of experience-expectant and experiences dependent learning. The results of this study also support the use of inter-individual connectivity differences over whole group differences in understanding the impact of early deprivation on brain architecture and behavioral functioning. This approach should be applied to other imaging methods and other populations with aberrant early like circumstances.

Included in

Psychology Commons