Friday, April 17, 2015
New research shows that poor children have smaller brains than affluent children
Neuroscientists who studied the brain scans of nearly 1,100 children and young adults nationwide from ages 3 to 20 found that the surface area of the cerebral cortex was linked to family income. They discovered that the brains of children in families that earned less than $25,000 a year had surface areas 6% smaller than those whose families earned $150,000 or more. The poor children also scored lower on average on a battery of cognitive tests. The region of the brain in question handles language, memory, spatial skills and reasoning, all important to success in school and beyond. In another study, a team led by neuroscientist John Gabrieli of MIT found differences in the brain’s cortical thickness between low-income and higher-income teenagers. The study linked that difference for the first time to standardized test scores: 57% of the poor children scored proficient in math and reading tests given annually in Massachusetts, compared with 91% of the higher-income students.