June 17, 2013
A recent study conducted by Dr. Martha Farah at the University of Pennsylvania investigated the relationship between social class and brain development. Before this study, little attention was focused on the effect of low socioeconomic status on the brain and cognition. Dr. Farah’s analysis of what aspects of social class cause brain differences indicates that children’s cognitive development is affected by exposure to language, feedback mechanisms, and stress. High-stress childhoods are correlated with changes in stress physiology and stress regulation. Dr. Farah is currently attempting to determine how brain differences emerge. As she continues her research efforts, she expects to find that there will be differences in the brains of low socioeconomic infants that develop within the first month of life due to environmental factors. Overall, her research appears to indicate that environmental factors, such as stress and second-hand smoke, are more cognitively stunting than lack of parental nurturance. For more information, you can find the article here.