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How Poverty Affects the Brain


MRIs done years apart show that children raised in violent neighborhoods have progressively weaker neural connections and less interaction in parts of the brain associated with judgment and ethical processing. GREGOR SCHUSTER/GETTY

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Above is "children raised in violent neighborhoods".

Is that synonymous with poverty?

Excellent question, Adam. After about a thousand paragraphs down, I found something: Immordino-Yang’s work is contributing to a growing field called the neuroscience of poverty. Though it’s still largely based on correlations between brain patterns and particular environments, the research points to a disturbing conclusion: Poverty and the conditions that often accompany it—violence, excessive noise, chaos at home, pollution, malnutrition, abuse and parents without jobs—can affect the interactions, formation and pruning of connections in the young brain.

"He is one of the 73 low-income teens USC neuroscientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang has been tracking in a five-year study designed to understand how culture, family relationships, exposure to violence and other factors shape the human mind. Test subjects from throughout Southern California watch 40 video clips, each depicting a different true story told by the person who lived it. Some stories—like Yousafzai’s—were chosen because they are heart-tugging and inspirational. The teenagers watch parts of the clips again while inside an MRI machine, and their brain responses are recorded. Two years later, they are called back to the Brain and Creativity Lab, a hybrid learning center and campus innovation hub with an MRI-scanning lab, meeting offices, modern art and photography galleries, as well as a performance hall that offers literary readings, scientific presentations and cello concerts featuring Yo-Yo Ma. The testing process is repeated to track changes over time."

Thank you Marlene.

I wonder if poverty causes those conditions or if they are just correlated.

Above is "children raised in violent neighborhoods".

Is that synonymous with poverty

Marlene addressed this already.  I would add that this makes sense, because anyone who can afford to move out of a violent neighborhood generally will.

Which makes me wonder how much it costs to move out of a violent neighborhood.

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