Thursday, December 04, 2008

Brain function for children effected by poverty.

This may be related to another story we shared in November, as they are both from British Columbia. Researchers there found how being poor can effect children genes. Now they have studied the effects of poverty on brain activity.

Canadian Press writer Sunny Dhillon explains how researchers conducted the study.

In the study, 26 children, ages nine and 10, were chosen. Half came from low-income environments while the other half consisted of children from high-income backgrounds.

Each child's brain activity was measured on an electroencephalograph (EEG) while he or she watched triangles projected on a screen.

Each child was told that when a slightly skewed triangle appeared, he or she was to click a button.

Researchers found that children from low socioeconomic environments demonstrated a slower response to the unexpected stimuli.

The study was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, where, in addition to his UBC duties, Boyce serves as professor emeritus of public health.

Robert Knight, director of UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and cognitive psychologist Mark Kishiyama both worked on the study, which was published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

In a news release, Kishiyama described the response of low-income children in the study to the response of people who have had a portion of their frontal lobe destroyed by a stroke.

"These kids have no neural damage, no prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, no neurological damage," Kishiyama said. "Yet the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as effectively as it should be."

The researchers say that the impairment can be improved through proper training and education.

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