Neurocritic has just published a fantastic summary of Professor Martha Farah’s recent work on the effects of poverty on mind and brain function.
For example, it is known that poor diet alone can restrict the development of certain skills and abilities.
However, one of Farah’s main findings is that those from poorer backgrounds do not usually show a global impairment in mental function.
The main differences between children from a poor background, and those from a wealthier background were in tests of language, working memory, cognitive control and memory. No difference was found for reward processing, spatial cognition, or visual cognition.
With the functional brain-scanning data the researchers also collected, the evidence suggests that poverty can have varying effects on brain development.
Neurocritic notes that the this is quite a complex picture but is a refreshing change to the raft of poorly designed (and usually well-publicised) studies which simply correlate IQ with [something] and argue that [something] must therefore be linked to intelligence.
Link to ‘Childhood Poverty and Neurocognitive Development’ from Neurocritic.