For a greater understanding of the encultured brain and body…

Archive for April 10th, 2009

Poverty and the Brain: Becoming Critical

Posted by dlende on April 10, 2009

Poverty Poisons the Brain was one of our most popular posts last year. Recent research has brought that topic back into public light. It’s good research, but today I will get critical about what really matters in our emerging realization that social disadvantage results in neurological disadvantage.

Gary Evans and Michelle Shamberg recently published a PNAS paper, Childhood Poverty, Chronic Stress and Working Memory (pdf). Here’s the abstract:

The income–achievement gap is a formidable societal problem, but little is known about either neurocognitive or biological mechanisms that might account for income-related deficits in academic achievement. We show that childhood poverty is inversely related to working memory in young adults. Furthermore, this prospective relationship is mediated by elevated chronic stress during childhood. Chronic stress is measured by allostatic load, a biological marker of cumulative wear and tear on the body that is caused by the mobilization of multiple physiological systems in response to chronic environmental demands.

The Evans and Shamberg paper has gotten prominent media attention. Over at Wired, Poverty Goes Straight to the Brain got an enormous number of diggs. Brandon Keim’s opening lines are, “Growing up poor isn’t merely hard on kids. It might also be bad for their brains. A long-term study of cognitive development in lower- and middle-class students found strong links between childhood poverty, physiological stress and adult memory.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Brain Mechanisms, Developmental psychology, Embodiment, Inequality, Stress | 9 Comments »

Stone Sport

Posted by dlende on April 10, 2009

Two carnivals out this week.

Four Stone Hearth, the best of anthro blogging, is out at Quiche Moraine. Shamans, animal models of human sociality, pelvis sexing, lego archaeology, and much more!

The Athletic Alley is hosting its weekly sports carnival. From amateur to pro, adult fitness to youth sports, there’s a bit of everything for the sports aficionado.

Posted in Links | 1 Comment »


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