Growing Up in Poverty Affects the Brain Differently Than We Thought

By Erica  Sanchez & Leah Rodriguez ~ Global Citizen

A new study shows socioeconomic status changes cognitive functioning on several levels.

A child who grows up in a low-income household could have a worse memory after the age of 50, the Atlantic reports.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal published a new study on the correlation between socioeconomic status and health. Researchers looked at a database of 24,066 people in the US over 50 whose cognitive function had been measured every two years from 2004 to 2015 with memory tests — and found that people who grew up in wealthier homes performed better as they got older.

Previous research has shown there are three factors to consider when examining how childhood poverty affects the brain, but PNAS found they might be working together to affect low cognitive functioning in adulthood.

The first factor is exposure to enriching experiences. Children who grow up in low-income families, for example, might miss out on cognitively stimulating extracurricular activities that lead to more advanced brain development later in life, according to the Atlantic.

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