Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, October 6, 2014

Link between brain, socioeconomic status to be discussed

How the brain reflects parents' socioeconomic status and the consequences for schooling attainment is the subject of a talk on Thursday, October 9, by La Follette School economist Barbara Wolfe at 12:15 p.m. in 8417 Sewell Social Sciences.

Wolfe, Richard A. Easterlin Professor of Public Affairs, Economics, and Population Health Sciences; and Seth Pollak, professor of psychology, anthropology, pediatrics and psychiatry, will present this talk as part of the Institute for Research on Poverty's Promising Programs to Reduce Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty Seminar Series.

Their research on poverty and the brain has been receiving national media attention in the wake of an article published in the journal PLOS ONE in December.

Poverty may have direct implications for important, early steps in the development of the brain, saddling children of low-income families with slower rates of growth in two key brain structures, Wolfe and Pollak suggest. By age 4, children in families living with incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty line have less gray matter — brain tissue critical for processing of information and execution of actions — than kids growing up in families with higher incomes.

Does Moving Poor People Work?, September 16, 2014, New York Times

Wisconsin Researchers: Poverty Influences Brain Development in Children, December 17, 2013, Diane Ravitch's Blog

Poverty influences children's early brain development, December 11, 2013, University of Wisconsin–Madison News