Functional connectivity in central executive network protects youth against cardiometabolic risks linked with neighborhood violence

Gregory E. Miller*, Edith Chen, Casey C. Armstrong, Ann L. Carroll, Sekine Ozturk, Kelsey J. Rydland, Gene H. Brody, Todd B. Parrish, Robin Nusslock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Although violent crime has declined in recent decades, it remains a recurring feature of daily life in some neighborhoods. Mounting evidence indicates that such violence has a long reach, which goes beyond family and friends of the victim and undermines the health of people in the surrounding community. However, like all forms of adversity, community violence elicits a heterogeneous response: Some remain healthy, but others deteriorate. Despite much scientific attention, the neural circuitries that contribute to differential adaptation remain poorly understood. Drawing on knowledge of the brain’s intrinsic functional architecture, we predicted that individual differences in resting-state connectivity would explain variability in the strength of the association between neighborhood violence and cardiometabolic health. We enrolled 218 urban youth (age 12–14 years, 66% female; 65% black or Latino) and used geocoding to characterize their exposure to neighborhood murder over the past five years. Multiple aspects of cardiometabolic health were assessed, including obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Functional MRI was used to quantify the connectivity of major intrinsic networks. Consistent with predictions, resting-state connectivity within the central executive network (CEN) emerged as a moderator of adaptation. Across six distinct outcomes, a higher neighborhood murder rate was associated with greater cardiometabolic risk, but this relationship was apparent only among youth who displayed lower CEN resting-state connectivity. By contrast, there was little evidence of moderation by the anterior salience and default mode networks. These findings advance basic and applied knowledge about adaptation by highlighting intrinsic CEN connectivity as a potential neurobiological contributor to resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12063-12068
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018


  • Cardiovascular
  • Children
  • Neuroscience
  • Resilience
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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