Showing posts with label intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intelligence. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Being poor means poor intelligence

Economic health disparities are a reality. In two separate studies, researchers found that experiencing poverty in early childhood is linked to smaller brain size and less efficient processing of certain sensory information. Exposure to early life adversity should be considered no less toxic than exposure to lead, alcohol or cocaine. Exposure to poverty in early childhood negatively affects brain development, but good-quality caregiving may help offset this effect.

In one study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, children who grew up in impoverished households showed smaller white and grey matter in their brains compared with those who had more means — these make up the density of nerve connections between different parts of the brain. The less wealthy kids also developed smaller hippocampus and amygdala regions, which are involved in regulating attention, memory and emotions.

According to the researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the smaller brain regions may be due to the increased stress and anxiety that these children experience growing up in families where finances are tight, and therefore parental support and interaction with children suffers.  Researchers found poor parents reacted with less patience and were “less able to nurture the children.”
"Parents can be less emotionally responsive for a whole host of reasons. They may work two jobs or regularly find themselves trying to scrounge together money for food," explained Luby. "Perhaps they live in an unsafe environment. They may be facing many stresses, and some don't have the capacity to invest in supportive parenting as much as parents who don't have to live in the midst of those adverse circumstances."

Only half the children living in poverty reach what is defined as "a good level of development" by the time they are five, compared with two-thirds of the others. "Good quality early-years provision can help improve outcomes, especially for the most disadvantaged," a report says. "However,childcare is expensive in the UK, and many people cannot afford to utilise it or go back to work after having children.
In the second study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists at Northwestern University, in Illinois, connected lower maternal education, a common symptom of poverty, to poor processing of sound in the brains of children raised in lower-resource environments. The researchers found that adolescents whose mothers had less education were more likely to register more varied and noisier nerve responses when hearing speech than those whose mothers had more schooling. That response, according to previous work, could translate into poor reading skills. The scientific team suspects that the lack of constant verbal interaction between mother and child could be one factor in the noisier brain responses to speech, since such back-and-forth can prime a still-developing brain to isolate and recognize speech more efficiently. Other data established that children in higher-income families are exposed to 30 million more words than those in lower-income families where parents have less education.

The good news, however, is that the effects may be reversible. Families don’t chose poverty, but changes in care-giving, especially during early childhood, could avoid some of the physical changes the scientists measured. Socialism can expect a lot more bright children.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Poverty makes you thick

A Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience study was described as a "wake-up call" about the impact of social deprivation.
Normal nine and 10-year-olds from rich and poor backgrounds had differing electrical activity in a part of the brain linked to problem solving. The brains of children from low-income families process information differently to those of their wealthier counterparts.
Since the children were, in health terms, normal in every way, the researchers suspected that "stressful environments" created by low socioeconomic status might be to blame.
Dr Mark Kishiyama, one of the researchers, said: "The low socioeconomic kids were not detecting or processing the visual stimuli as well - they were not getting that extra boost from the prefrontal cortex."
Previous studies have suggested that children in low-income families are spoken to far less - on average hearing 30 million fewer words by the age of four.
Professor Robert Knight, added: "This is a wake-up call - it's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status."

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