How Poverty Changes Your Brain

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Poverty contributes to innumerable problems, and new research shows that poverty even leads to smaller brain size.

A study, published March 30 in Nature Neuroscience, imaged the brains of 1,099 children and young adults across America. The findings show that children from families making less than $25,000 per year have brains with 6% less surface area than kids whose families made over $150,000 per year. The areas of the brain affected control language, decision-making, memory, and reading skills.

Another study, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, found that even among one-month-old girls, the brains of those living in poverty were smaller than those of higher socio-economic groups. Unfortunately, it seems that the effects also carry into adulthood. The cognitive skills of adults living in poverty are much lower than those who are in higher socio-economic brackets.

Of course, this leads to the question of nurture vs nature. The researchers point to inadequate prenatal nutrition, substandard housing, low quality schooling, depression, anxiety, and excess stress (on both the body and the mind) as possible causes. They posit that focusing on prenatal care and helping families reduce poverty stress through social services or job assistance would correct some of the brain shrinkage seen in those experiencing poverty.

Watch the video below to learn more about how poverty affects the brain >>>

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