The Neuroscience of Poverty: Does Growing up Poor affect Children’s Brains?

Scientific research indicates that growing up poor may diminish the physical development of a child’s brain. Neuroscientists and Pediatricians alike are increasingly coming forward to indicate that they have seen evidence that poverty itself – and not factors like nutrition, language exposure, family stability, or prenatal issues, as previously thought – may diminish the growth of a child’s brain.

poverty children


Do Poor Children Perform worse academically?

Because it was observed that poor kids tended to perform worse academically than their better-off peers, Neuroscientists investigated the neurocognitive underpinnings of this relationship – to trace the long-standing correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance back to specific parts of the brain.



 Language and Executive Functioning disparities

Research is being done that may definitively prove that growing up poor can keep a child’s brain from developing. The largest study to date using MRI resonance have found the brains of those with higher family income and more parental education had larger surface areas than their poorer, less-educated peers. The strongest correlation came in the brain regions associated with language and executive functioning.

income brain

Does changing the income level make a difference?

Income as a factor does influence the outcome for the children. Data indicates that small increases in family income have an impact on both wealthy and poor children. However, it makes a much larger impact on the brains of the poorest children.

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