Poor Children Develop Smaller Brains
A new study published in J_AMA Pediatrics _concludes that children from low-income houses have structural changes in the brain that could explain their poor academic performance.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 389 children between the ages of four and 22. These scans included gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe and hippocampus.
Results showed gray matter volume in the brains of children living below the poverty line were eight to 10 percent below the developmental norm. Children from low-income homes also scored lower on standardized testing by four to seven percentage points.
The results build upon the documented disparities regarding education and school performance between children in poverty-level homes and children in middle or high-income homes.
Little has been known about the mechanisms underlying the influence of poverty on children's academic achievement, however.
The study concludes: "Development in these brain regions appears sensitive to the child's environment and nurturance. These observations suggest that interventions aimed at improving children's environments may also alter the link between childhood poverty and deficits in cognition and academic achievement."