default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Study: Poverty Influences Children’s Early Brain Development

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 12:46 pm | Updated: 4:36 pm, Mon Dec 30, 2013.

A new study links poverty with slower early brain development. According to the study, children of low-income families have slower rates of growth in a number of areas, including two key parts of the brain.

The problem is described by one of the researchers involved, psychology professor Seth Pollak.

"Poverty seems to be putting children's brains on a different trajectory of development," he said. "It's slowing the development of the brains of infants living in poverty."

Pollak and other researchers studied 400 children from birth to age four. He said there is a distinct difference in the brain scans of children living in poverty. The research indicates they don't develop as rapidly, which Pollak said helps explain behavioral, learning and attention problems.

"We'll see children living in poverty who are placed in front of a television set and they sit there and they don't really move and they just watch a video all day," he said. "Sometimes they're just left in a room with really nothing to do. We see children come into the laboratory who don't have crayons or pencils, because they don't have any of these things at home."

According to Pollak and his fellow researchers, environmental factors that contribute to slower brain development often come with poverty, such as poor nutrition, a lack of sleep, an unsafe environment, and a lack of books and educational toys.

The research indicates that child-adult interaction is critical, but often absent in homes of low-income families, along with other factors.

Poverty may make it impossible to have "a child feeling protected, a child feeling secure, a child being supported, a child being spoken to and interacted with in a way that provides the child more information and practice in communication and making sense," he said.

A Kids Count Data Center study released earlier this year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds more than half a million Pennsylvania children, or 20 percent of them, living in poverty. In addition, 41 percent of children between the ages of three and five years in Pennsylvania aren't enrolled in nursery school, pre-school or kindergarten.

Read a brief version of the study at

Welcome to the discussion.

Human Resource Management

Learn about the National Labor Relations Board's updates on employee handbooks with Robert D. ...

Hispanic Center Presents

Compensacion para el trabajador with Pina Ugliuzza and Bernardo Carbajal. Recursos para las pers...

Matters of CONCERN

Beth Bitler talks about who are qualified as mandated reporters of child abuse and what you shoul...

Disabilities: Issues & Updates

De Lores DeHeart talked with president of the Berks Chapter of National Federation of the Blind J...

Aging Programs and Services

Ann Barlet discussed the programs and resources available to seniors in Berks County with Dennis ...

Talking Mental Health

Jim Miller talked with Brian Richardson from the Greater Reading Mental Health Alliance about the...

Your Social Security

Jason Fama and Katherine Walsh shared information on filing taxes when you collect Social Securit...

Berks Community Action Program

Jodi Readinger and Larry Berringer provide program updates and discuss BCAP youth initiatives.


Brad Hart talks about seeing eye dogs with Lisa Radcliff, area coordinator with Puppy Development...


Tasha Isaac and Aleida Rodriguez talk about Berks Women in Crisis and upcoming events.

Special sections