Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Socioeconomic Status and the Developing Brain

Recent paper in TICS

Socioeconomic status and the developing brain
Daniel A. HackmanandMartha J. Farah

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 3720 Walnut Street, Room B51, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6241, USA


Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with cognitive achievement throughout life. How does SES relate to brain development, and what are the mechanisms by which SES might exert its influence? We review studies in which behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods have been used to characterize SES disparities in neurocognitive function. These studies indicate that SES is an important predictor of neurocognitive performance, particularly of language and executive function, and that SES differences are found in neural processing even when performance levels are equal. Implications for basic cognitive neuroscience and for understanding and ameliorating the problems related to childhood poverty are discussed.

1 comment:

Kevin Denny said...

This is a really interesting paper. They comment "Unlike many of the phenomena studied in cognitive neuroscience, SES does not lend itself to the kind of experimental manipulation needed to identify causal mechanisms". Of course, economists know about natural experiments which might manipulate SES for example education reforms. So it might be possible, for example in some of the UK cohort studies, to IV parental SES & see what this does to the gradient w.r.t. IQ.