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On brain development, socioeconomic status and parenting styles

wheelRich Man, Poor Man: Socioe­co­nom­ic Adver­si­ty and Brain Devel­op­ment (Cere­brum):

..While ear­ly expo­sure to addi­tion­al lan­guages or music may lead to ben­e­fi­cial changes in brain devel­op­ment, ear­ly adver­si­ty can like­wise have impor­tant but detri­men­tal effects on the brain. For exam­ple, by 10 years of age, fam­i­ly SES is an excel­lent pre­dic­tor of a child’s cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties: chil­dren from high­er-SES fam­i­lies tend to per­form well above chil­dren from low­er-SES families—regardless of whether those chil­dren had high or low cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties at age two.

Numer­ous fac­tors con­tribute to these SES gaps in cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment: nutri­tion, envi­ron­men­tal tox­ins, home learn­ing envi­ron­ment, expo­sure to stress, and ear­ly schooling…mounting evi­dence sug­gests that socioe­co­nom­ic factors—parental edu­ca­tion or fam­i­ly income—may lead to dif­fer­ences in the home-lan­guage envi­ron­ment or expo­sure to fam­i­ly stress, which in turn have cas­cad­ing effects on the devel­op­ment of brain sys­tems that sup­port crit­i­cal neu­rocog­ni­tive func­tions such as lan­guage, mem­o­ry, and self-reg­u­la­tion…

High­ly edu­cat­ed par­ents invest far more time play­ing with, talk­ing to, and teach­ing their chil­dren, and par­ent­ing style has been cit­ed as the sin­gle most impor­tant fac­tor in explain­ing the SES gap in cog­ni­tive development…social sci­en­tists and neu­ro­sci­en­tists believe that poli­cies that reduce fam­i­ly pover­ty would have mean­ing­ful effects on ear­ly care­giv­ing and reduc­tions in fam­i­ly stress, ulti­mate­ly improv­ing children’s brain func­tion­ing and pro­mot­ing the cog­ni­tive and socio-emo­tion­al devel­op­ment that is so crit­i­cal for chil­dren to suc­ceed and to lead healthy, pro­duc­tive lives.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning

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