TC's Kim Noble on Charlie Rose Panel, Discussing Poverty and Brain Development | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC's Kim Noble Discusses Poverty and Brain Development on Charlie Rose Panel

Kim Noble, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education, joined a panel of scientists to discuss the effect of adversity on brain development, on the Charlie Rose Show on Feb. 10

Kim Noble, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education, was on a panel of scientists who discussed the effect of adversity on brain development, on the Charlie Rose Show on Feb. 10. Noble talked about her research findings that indicate that poverty can adversely affect brain development in children.

[ Watch the entire clip of Noble ] 

She said her research over the past 10 years has established that:

  1. In general, children from socioeconomically advantaged homes outperformed those in less-advantaged homes on memory tests.

  2. The very structure of the brain can be affected by socioeconomic background. Her research has found that children from families with higher incomes tend to have a larger hippocampus, which is associated with better memory skills. Development of the hippocampus is "profoundly" affected by stress.

  3. Socioeconomic status is tied to differences in the development of the parts of children's brains that are related to language skills and executive functioning. Children from higher-income families tend to have a larger cerebral cortex, including a strong frontal and temporal cortex, which are responsible for language development, as well as parts of the brain that support self-regulation.

  4. The strongest correlations between poverty and brain development occurred among the most disadvantaged families, and the greater differences in brain structure were among the poorest families.

  5. On average, children from disadvantaged homes have smaller brains, and those from wealthier homes have larger brains--"but it doesn't always work that way," Noble says. Differences within the same socioeconomic group could possibly be the result of differences in parenting, and differences in the way parents handle stress.
  6. Appropriate interventions may be able to reverse or prevent these effects.

Kimberly Noble, MD, PhD, is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist and pediatrician in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College who studies socioeconomic disparities in children's brain development. She is the Principal Investigator at the Neurocognition, Early Experience, and Development (NEED) Lab at Teachers College.

Published Monday, Feb 13, 2017