Study: Poverty Impacts Development Of Young Brains

Research reaffirms the belief that poverty impacts growing brains.The University of Granada recently published research that reaffirms the belief that poverty impacts growing brains, and this is especially significant in young children.

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) conducted a study that measured the brain responses of 88 16-month-old children as they attempted to solve puzzles they were familiar with. The measurements were taken when the puzzles were put together correctly as well as incorrectly. What researchers found was that children who were in families that had lower levels of education and resource (more poverty) actually showed less mature brain functioning and ability to see the errors in their puzzle completion.

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Similarly to adults, study researcher Charo Ruedo says that the brain response when noticing error is a good way to measure the brain’s functioning with relation to attention and learning process. The research found that the toddlers of the study did indeed respond in similar fashion as adults, and as such will allow researchers to possibly detect attention problems in children earlier.

Interestingly, though, Rueda says that this is the first time researchers can  establish a relationship between the brain of a toddler while detecting errors and her familial socioeconomic status. The results showed distinct differentiation in the children who would be considered poverty stricken.

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Rueda says the importance of this relationship is significant because it reaffirms research that shows a child’s environment (specifically, resources) does indeed have impact on a child’s brain development, especially early in their lives.

Because the research results suggested that the toddlers who were raised in families who had lower socioeconomic resources and education levels displayed immature brain functioning compared to their peers, it’s a safe conclusion that if we want to ensure appropriate brain development in children, we need to work to eliminate the economic and educational inequalities children face, and we need to start when they are young.

Photo: Phillipe Put/flickr

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