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Thursday, August 27, 2015

BRAIN STUDIES SHOW IMPORTANCE OF FIGHTING POVERTY

New studies using brain scan technology vividly illustrate the harm associated with growing up poor. Children living in poverty had an average of 7 to 10% less grey matter in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus — areas of the brain tied to learning and educational functioning — than children above 150%R of the poverty line, according to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Children with less grey matter in these areas tended to do worse on academic tests.  These shortfalls in brain volume explained 15 to 20% of the gap in academic achievement scores between children from lower- and higher-income families, the study found. The study’s authors note evidence that programs like SNAP affect children’s outcomes. One study they mention found that young children with access to SNAP showed strong improvements many years later on a range of outcomes, including an 18-percentage-point increase in high school completion.
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8/6/15, Poverty & the Brain