Family income affects brain anatomy, test scores – MIT study

Kids in low-income households lag behind their peers from wealthier families when it comes to standardized testing. Their brain anatomy could be a factor, with the research exposing a “cost to not living in a supportive environment.”

The researchers compared students’ scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) with brain scans of the most highly developed part of the human brain – the layer often referred to as “gray matter.” The cerebral cortex is responsible for thinking, perceiving, producing and understanding language.

 

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Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) researchers at MIT and Harvard University came to the conclusion that the higher-income students have thicker brain cortex in areas associated with visual perception and knowledge accumulation. In most other measures of brain anatomy, the researchers found no significant differences. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, did not provide possible reasons for these particular differences in brain anatomy, however.

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