Cognitive researchers have found that poverty is one of the major risk factors in children’s cognitive development. Poor nutrition, poverty related health issues, home environment, parenting practices, high crime rate neighbourhoods, unemployment – all factors Undernourished women are more likely to give birth to underweight babies. Poor children are more likely to experience stunted growth and problems with cognitive development than children from wealthy families
Poverty & Socio-Economic Status Children from low income SES (social economic status based on income, education and occupation) environments performed worse on all tests of cognitive performance compared to middle income SES children (Farah et al (2005). Children from low SES families have a 50% chance of remaining in lifelong poverty because the brains of poor children do not develop optimally and therefore miss opportunities (Krugman 2008). Poverty can lead to chronic malnourishment – linked to less activity and interest in learning. Malnutrition is associated with impaired or delayed brain development.
Poverty & Socio-Economic Status A sample of 20 Indian children in 2 groups; 5-7 years & 8-10 years. Looking at effect of malnutrition on cognitive performance. Data compared with a control group. Malnourished children in both age groups scored lower in attention tests, working memory tests and visuospatial tasks. Older children showed less impairment – indicates the effects of malnutrition on cognitive competence may result in delayed cognitive development during childhood – but effects are not permanent (Bhoomika et al, 2008).
Dickerson and Popli, (2012) analysed data on almost 8,000 members of the Millennium Cohort Study, which follows the lives of children born in the UK in 2000-01.The researchers looked at whether the children were in poverty at ages 9 months, 3 years, 5 years and 7 years. Children were said to be in persistent poverty if their families were poor at the current and all previous surveys. found that seven-year-olds who have lived in poverty since infancy perform substantially worse in a range of ability tests than those who have never been poor – even when family circumstances and parenting skills are taken into consideration. On a scale from 0 to 100, a child who has been in persistent poverty will rank 10 levels below an otherwise similar child who has no early experience of poverty.
Poverty & Socio-Economic Status Dickerson and Popli, (2012) found that poverty – especially persistent poverty – has a greater impact on cognitive development than factors such as whether or not parents read to their children, take them to the library, or help them with reading, writing and maths. The impact is equivalent to the gap in scores between the children of university-educated mothers and children of mothers with basic or no qualifications. The study also shows that being poor can adversely affect parents' ability to take an active role in their children's learning, which further affects their scores.
Poverty & Socio-Economic Status ENVIRONMENTAL Rosenweig, Bennet and Diamond (1972) investigated environmental stimulation on brain plasticity – how it affected neuron development in the cerebral cortex. Rats – either in Enriched Condition (EC) or Impoverished Condition (IC). EC rats provided with objects to play with and maze training. IC rats in individual cage with no stimulation. After 30- 60 days – rats killed and brain studied to see changes. EC and IC brains different. EC increased thickness and higher cortex weight. EC had more acetylcholine receptors
Poverty & Socio-Economic Status Farah et al (2008) investigated relationship between environmental stimulation and parental nurturance on cognitive development Longitudinal design – 110 African American middle schoolers (av age 11.8 years). Recruited at birth and evaluated at age 4 and 8. Interviews and observational checklists were used to measure environmental stimulation (variety of experience, encouragement to learn music, colours) and parental nurturance (warmth & affection, verbal responsivity etc). Also lab cognitive tests – language and memory FOUND a positive correlation between environmental stimulation and language development. Age also a factor. Positive correlation between parental nurturance and long-term memory performance