“Poverty Shrinks Brains from Birth”

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A news feature in Nature discusses a recent study of 1,099 children, adolescents and young adults in several US cities that found poverty associated in a dose-response manner with poorer brain development.

“The brains of children from the lowest income bracket — less than US$25,000 — had up to 6% less surface area than did those of children from families making more than US$150,000, the researchers found,” reports Nature. “In children from the poorest families, income disparities of a few thousand dollars were associated with major differences in brain structure, particularly in areas associated with language and decision-making skills. Children’s scores on tests measuring cognitive skills, such as reading and memory ability, also declined with parental income.”

Poverty shrinks brains from birth (Nature, March 30, 2015)

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5 COMMENTS

  1. How do we know that affluence doesn’t actually grow brains ?

    There was also a study that showed that the more tattoos a person has the lower the intelligence.

    Music That Makes You Dumb ?

    Fans of Lil Wayne‘s music scored the lowest in SAT while listeners of Beethoven‘s work were among the highest scorers. http://www.labnol.org/internet/music-taste-linked-to-intelligence/7489/

    I can’t stand hip hop, I know a whole generation loves it but wow is it stupid and repetitive .

  2. I remember where read some of this now,

    “For example, in the February 2010 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry (Volume 67 [2] pp. 133-143), Pajonk, Wobrock, Gruber et. al. found that after just three months of a vigorous exercise program, the size of a brain structure called the hippocampus increased an average of 16 percent in “normals!”

    It is also true that the part of the brain that controls finger movements is, on average, much larger in concert violinists than in non-musicians. ”

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/matter-personality/201407/scientific-fraud-about-brain-scan-findings

    If I had to bet I would say that affluence grows brains and they got this backwards.

    • There are differences in adult versus juvenile brain growth. There is plasticity in adult brains for sure, but there are also “critical periods” in brain development in which, when one is deprived of proper nutrition and social interaction, one may never be able to recover completely. That being said, it’s still correlation and studies which show averages of population. Poverty is bad for poor people – this is not a new concept and we know that much already.

  3. But instead of giving them proper food, protecting them from neurotoxic stress and providing “enriched environment” with adult care, education and so on – let’s put them on anti-psychotics and shrink their brains even further.
    It’s war on the poor…