"While in no way implying that a child's socio-economic circumstances lead to immutable changes in brain development or cognition, our data suggest that wider access to resources likely afforded by the more affluent may lead to differences in a child's brain structure," said Elizabeth Sowell from CHLA.

In the largest study of its kind to date, the researchers looked at 1,099 typically developing individuals between the ages of 3 and 20 years.Associations between socio-economic factors (including parent education and family income) and measurements of surface area of the brain were drawn from demographic and developmental history questionnaires, as well as high-resolution brain MRIs.

"Specifically, among children from the lowest-income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area in a number of regions of the brain, associated with skills important for academic success," said study first author Kimberly G. Noble from CUMC.


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