Growing up in poverty — as do 22% of children in the US — has alarming, long-term effects on the brain, new studies conclude.
This can lead to long-term problems with depression, anxiety, learning difficulties and issues dealing with stress.
Professor Joan L. Luby, one of the study’s authors, said:
“Our research has shown that the effects of poverty on the developing brain, particularly in the hippocampus, are strongly influenced by parenting and life stresses experienced by the children.”
Children from low-income families scored 20% lower on standardised tests, new research has found.
This lowered performance was linked to slow development in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain.
However, these damaging effects of poverty on the brain can be offset.
Parents from low-income families who nurture their children can reduce some of these negative effects.
Teaching parents these nurturing skills — especially those living on low incomes — may be extremely beneficial for children.
Professor Luby writes in an editorial:
“In developmental science and medicine, it is not often that the cause and solution of a public health problem become so clearly elucidated.
It is even less common that feasible and cost-effective solutions to such problems are discovered and within reach.” (Luby, 2015)
The research was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics (Hair et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: ferendus