"Poor Children Have Smaller Brains"
|Above copied from Nature|
|Above copied from Nature Neuroscience|
|Above copied from|
et al. Nature Neurosci. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3983 (2015).
"As a final point, our results should in no way imply that a child’s socioeconomic circumstances lead to an immutable trajectory of cognitive or brain development. Many other factors account for variance in brain morphometry; indeed, our data show marked variability in brain structure at all SES levels, including among the most disadvantaged children."More than a year has passed since the publication of this study, Erika Hayasaki of Newsweek adds an important section to this discussion in her article,"How Poverty Affects the Brain":
The New Eugenics?
The headlines around this emerging neurological research are startling and troubling—“How Poverty Stunts Kids’ Brain Development.” “Poverty Shrinks Brains From Birth.” “Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions.”
Shonkoff says this type of language is a “dangerous, slippery slope. It’s one thing to say, ‘We on average see less gray matter, less surface area.’ It’s another for people to conclude, ‘Oh, you’re brain damaged.…’ This unfairly stigmatizes people.” Without context, poverty-brain research could fuel misguided beliefs involving racial disparities in intelligence or the inherent inferiority of the poor. It could also be used to justify racism.
“We run the risk of these findings becoming fodder for a nouveau eugenics movement,” says Matthew Hughey, associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. “The easily dispensed adage that ‘the poor’s brains are different’ is an all-too-easy, scary and simply wrong-headed approach.”Poverty is correlated with less gray matter, less surface area. This is true but the correlation in this case is not a clear-cut cause-effect relationship such that if a child is born to a poor family, the child is certain to have a smaller brain. The difference between the average surface area of a child growing up in poverty and that of a child born to affluent parents is easily dwarfed by the variability within any given income level. Poverty does not decide which children will do better in school. We do. If we continue not to provide quality care and basic education to poor children then we are the ones perpetuating the cycle of poverty.