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Health-related behaviours have been related to brain structural features. In developing settings, such as Latin America, high social inequality has been inversely associated with several health-related behaviours affecting brain development. Understanding the relationship between health behaviours and brain structure in such settings is particularly important during adolescence when critical habits are acquired and ingrained. In this cross-sectional study, we carry out a multimodal analysis identifying a brain region associated with health-related behaviours (i.e., adiposity, fitness, sleep problems and others) and cognitive/academic performance, independent of socioeconomic status in a large sample of Chilean adolescents. Our findings suggest that the relationship between health behaviours and cognitive/academic performance involves a particular brain phenotype that could play a mediator role. These findings fill a significant gap in the literature, which has largely focused on developed countries and raise the possibility of promoting healthy behaviours in adolescence as a means to influence brain structure and thereby cognitive/academic achievement, independently of socioeconomic factors. By highlighting the potential impact on brain structure and cognitive/academic achievement, policymakers could design interventions that are more effective in reducing health disparities in developing countries.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date





Brain, Canonical correlation analysis, Exercise, Lifestyle, Multimodal MRI, Socioeconomic factors