Brain function and socioeconomic status

A study to be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that 9 to 10 year-olds from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds have lower levels of activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for problem-solving, planning and decision-making, than those from wealthier families. The researchers suggested that the activity patterns in the brains of poor children were similar to those of adults who have had damage to the area.

The researchers contend that these differences indicate that resource-poor environments have an impact not only on physical health, but on brain development; impoverished environments with fewer books and games may have an impact on children’s ability to regulate behaviour and make decisions. The authors believe that the differences in brain activity between poor and wealthy kids can be minimized with training, and are working with neuroscientists to develop games aimed at improving the development of the prefrontal cortex.

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