The Economist has devoted a full-length story to next week's launch of Baby's First Years, a major study co-led by Teachers College's Kimberly Noble, Associate Professor of Neuroscience & Education, which seeks to establish causal links between parental income level and brain development in very young children.
In the study, half of a group of 1,000 low-income mothers will receive $333 per month, with no conditions for how the money should be spent, while the other half will receive $20 per month. In the story, Noble, who heads TC’s Neurocognition, Early Experience & Development (NEED) Lab, notes that while there is much evidence of the detrimental impact of poverty on child development -- including reduced language and memory skills, lower performance in school, and higher rates of ending up in jail -- no causal link has yet been established. However a previous study co-authored by Noble found strong correlations between income level and cerebral cortex size. "The hypothesis is that this steady stream of payments will make a positive difference in the cognitive and emotional development of the children whose mothers receive it," the Economist story said.
Baby's First Years is supported by $15 million in public and privately-funded grants, including a $7.8 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. Noble is a faculty member in TC's Department of Biobehavioral Sciences.
Read the Economist's story, Does growing up poor harm brain development?