Low-income children’s brains don’t develop in the same way as the brains of high-income children, concludes a Berkeley study using EEGs. “Normal 9- and 10-year-olds differing only in socioeconomic status” showed differences “in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity.” Some of the poor kids showed patterns similar to stroke victims with frontal lobe damage.
“These kids have no neural damage, no prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, no neurological damage,” (cognitive scientist Mark) Kishiyama said. “Yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be. This difference may manifest itself in problem solving and school performance.”
Researchers believe lack of intellectual stimulation and stress affect brain development in low-income children. If so, it’s reversible.
. . . Adele Diamond showed last year that 5- and 6-year-olds with impaired executive functioning, that is, poor problem solving and reasoning abilities, can improve their academic performance with the help of special activities, including dramatic play.
The study will be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.