Wash Post: TC Study Linking Poverty and Brain Size Deepens D... | Teachers College Columbia University

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Washington Post: TC Study Linking Poverty and Brain Size Deepens Debate About Achievement Gap

A new study co-authored by TC's Kimberly Noble could open new avenues of investigation for the national debate about how to close the achievement gap, writes Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience last month, found that children whose families earn less than $25,000 per year had brain surface area that was 6 percent smaller than those whose families earned $150,000 or more. The poorer children also scored lower on cognitive tests.

"The research comes at a time when a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families and the academic achievement gap between poor and more-affluent children is growing," Layton writes.

"Noble and [lead author Elizabeth] Sowell have two theories about why poor children have smaller brains," Layton continues."One is that poor families lack access to material goods that aid healthy development, such as good nutrition and higher-quality health care. The other is that poor families tend to live more chaotic lives, and that stress could inhibit healthy brain development."

Noble's next study will try to determine whether the outcome for poorer children could be prevented by giving their mothers small or large amounts of cash payments per month.

Here is a story about the study on the TC website.


Published Friday, Apr. 24, 2015