African Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty in a number of ways. In 2012, they were twice as likely to be unemployed compared to whites.
A new study is revealing some interesting findings about the affects of poverty on the brain.
Experiencing poverty is like knocking 13 points off your IQ as you try to navigate everything else. That’s like living, perpetually, on a missed night of sleep. That finding offered a glimpse of what poverty does to a person during a moment in time. Picture a mother trying to accomplish a single task (making dinner) while preoccupied with another (paying the rent on time). But scientists also suspect that poverty’s disadvantages – and these moments – accumulate across time. Live in poverty for years, or even generations, and its effects grow more insidious. Live in poverty as a child, and it affects you as an adult, too.
Researchers observed the brain activity of children living in poverty from age 9 to 24.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy found that those who grew up poor later had impaired brain function as adults. The affects were so apparent that scientists could literally view the disadvantage in parts of the brain.
Children who were poor at age 9 had greater activity in the amygdala and less activity in the prefrontal cortex at age 24. The two regions affect our detection of threats and management of stress. As a result, poor children had more problems regulating their emotions as adults, similar to patterns observed in the brains of those suffering from depression, aggression and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Yet another reason for solving the poverty epidemic.
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