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Research links income, children’s brain development

Research by economist Barbara Wolfe explores the association between socioeconomic status and the hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory that is known to be affected by stress. A Huffington Post article cites the findings.

Wolfe conducted the study with several other scholars, including Seth Pollak, a La Follette School faculty affiliate. They found that children from lower income backgrounds had lower hippocampal gray matter density than children from higher income families. The findings suggest that differences in the hippocampus, perhaps due to stress tied to growing up in poverty, might partially explain differences in long-term memory, learning, control of neuroendocrine functions and modulation of emotional behavior.

The research, “Association between Income and the Hippocampus,” is available online.

Children's Mental Health At Risk From Chronic Financial Instability,” May 16, 2012, Huffington Post

— posted June 20, 2012