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Study looks at effects of socioeconomic factors on child brain development and achievement

Science Spotlight

March 30, 2015

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New research suggests that family income, and to a lesser degree parental education, are associated with brain structure differences in children and young adults. Focusing on brain regions critical for language, memory, and executive function in participants aged three to 20 years, scientists found that small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in brain surface area in young people from the lowest-income families. This effect was smaller in higher-income families. Higher income was also associated with better performance in tests of cognitive ability. Increased levels of parental education were also related to increased brain surface area, although this effect was smaller when compared to the influence of income.

Although these study results do not suggest that low-income children have poor cognitive function, they indicate that interventions to reduce family poverty may help reduce socioeconomic disparities in child development and achievement.  

This research was funded by NIDA, NICHD, and NIMH. For a copy of the article, published in Nature Neuroscience, go to: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.3983.html. To learn more about a trans-NIH collaboration to explore the effects of teen substance use on the developing brain, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/divisions/division-extramural-research-der/longitudinal-study-adolescent-brain-cognitive-development-abcd.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2015, March 30). Study looks at effects of socioeconomic factors on child brain development and achievement. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/03/study-looks-effects-socioeconomic-factors-child-brain-development-achievement

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