A new analysis of MRI scans shows that kids’ brain structure may be affected by family income.
Differences in brain structure were found between students from families with lower incomes and wealthier children. Scientists report a correlation between having smaller surface area in brain regions that determine academic success and growing up in a lower income family.
Children’s race and ethnicity was not a factor in this outcome, the researchers found. One encouraging fact they discovered is that even small increases in income among the poorest families could be associated with relatively large increases in brain surface area. An increase in brain surface area is equivalent to an increase in learning potential.
“We do not know exactly what [it is] about having more money [that] leads to these brain size differences, but we suspect it involves all the resources that more affluent people can afford, such as good nutrition, health care, better schools, etc.,” said Elizabeth Sowell, senior author on the report and a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.