Poverty May Be a Brain Drain

Low-income kids respond less to visual data; researchers point to talk at home
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2008 5:40 PM CST
The prefrontal cortex is thought to be involved in planning complex cognitive behaviours and in the expression of personality and appropriate social behavior.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Children from poor families absorb information less effectively than their wealthier peers, the BBC reports. Using brain scans, scientists measured the cerebral activity of 9- and 10-year-olds after briefly showing them images. “The low socioeconomic kids were not detecting or processing the visual stimuli as well,” said one researcher. “They were not getting that extra boost from the prefrontal cortex.”

All of the 26 children who participated were healthy, which led researchers to theorize that stressful, low-income life causes a lack of brain development. One called the findings a “wake-up call,” but his colleague cautioned, “We are certainly not blaming lower socioeconomic families for not talking to their kids. There are probably a zillion reasons why that happens.”