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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W. / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie / Tenenbaum, Ariel

CiteScore 2018: 0.79

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Socioeconomic status is a predictor of neurocognitive performance of early female adolescents

H. J. Madhushanthi
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Nursing, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Ruhuna, Galle, Sri Lanka
  • Email
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/ Savithri W. Wimalasekera
  • Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
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/ C. Sampatha E. Goonewardena
  • Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
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/ A. A. Thamara D. Amarasekara
  • Department of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
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/ Janaka Lenora
Published Online: 2018-06-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2018-0024



Previous studies have shown that high socioeconomic status (SES) is significantly associated with inhibitory control, working memory, verbal comprehension and IQ. However, in the Asian setting, with its prevailing poverty, information about the influence of SES on cognitive development of female adolescents is limited. This study was aimed to investigate the association between SES and neurocognitive performance of early female adolescents in Sri Lanka.


Female adolescents aged 11–14 years (n = 200) of low and middle SES were studied to assess neurocognitive function. After obtaining baseline data, eight subtests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC – IV), Test Of Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI-3) and two computer-based executive function tests (inhibition and visuo-spatial working memory) were administered to assess neurocognitive measures of the above adolescents. The results were compiled into a data base and analyzed using SPSS version 20 statistical software.


Higher SES was associated with higher performance in all neurocognitive tests. Low SES adolescents obtained significantly poor test scores for executive function test (inhibitory control: p < 0.0001) and for WISC [verbal comprehension index (VCI): p < 0.0001), working memory index (WMI): p < 0.0001 and estimated full scale IQ (EFSIQ): p < 0.0001)] when compared with middle SES adolescents. Maternal education alone significantly predicts VCI and EFSIQ than the combined influence of parental education, occupation and income. Psychosocial adversities of adolescents were inversely correlated with VCI (r = −0.30; p < 0.001) and EFSIQ (r = −0.20; p < 0.001) of WISC and mathematics performance (r = −0.34; p < 0.001) at examination in school.


Findings of the study revealed the importance of upliftment of SES of the society to improve the cognitive and academic outcomes of low SES individuals.

Keywords: early female adolescents; neurocognitive function; socioeconomic status; Sri Lanka


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About the article

Received: 2017-08-06

Accepted: 2018-05-08

Published Online: 2018-06-13

Funding Source: University of Sri Jayewardenepura

Award identifier / Grant number: ASP/06/RE/MED/2014/19

The study was funded by university research grant from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (ASP/06/RE/MED/2014/19).

Availability of data and materials: The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Ethics approve and consent to participate: Ethical approval was granted by the Ethics Review Committee, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura (Reference no 80/14). Permission to carry out the study was obtained from the relevant school authorities. Informed written consent from the parents and each child’s assent were taken prior to start the data collection.

Consent for publication: All authors have approved the final manuscript and consented for publication.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The author(s) declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Author contribution: HJM was involved in designing the study, collection of data, preparing the data base, statistical analysis of data, interpretation of data and writing the first draft of the manuscript. SWW was involved in designing the study, critical analysis of results, interpretation of data, manuscript writing and final proof reading before submission. CSEG was involved in designing the study, interpretation of data, manuscript writing and final proof reading before submission. AATDA was involved in designing the study, interpretation of data, manuscript writing and final proof reading before submission. JL was involved in designing the study, interpretation of data, critical analysis of results, manuscript writing, final proof reading before submission and supervision of progress of the study.

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 20180024, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2018-0024.

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