Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2017
TC’s Kim Noble, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education, published a piece in the March issue of Scientific American (subscription required). In it, she recaps her research showing that poverty may affect brain development in children.
“Poverty places the young child’s brain at much greater risk of not going through the paces of normal development,” she writes. “Children who live in poverty tend to perform worse than their more advantaged peers on IQ, reading and other tests. They are less likely to graduate high school, less apt to go on to college and receive a degree, and more prone to be poor and underemployed as adults.”
If poverty affects brain development, could giving cash stipends to the parents of poor children help prevent or reverse these injurious effects on brain development? Noble and an interdisciplinary team of colleagues from other universities are planning “a study to gauge the effect on a young child’s health of giving a cash stipend to families to help ease their financial straits,” she writes.
The study will be “the first to probe whether a modest elevation in income could help build a better brain. If it succeeds, it could provide a clear path that proceeds directly from basic brain science to the formulation of new public policy.”
Noble began studying how socioeconomic disparities relate to brain function 15 years ago as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.