Re: Brain Structure Drives The Consequent Effects Of Economic Inequality

Posted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:13 pm, #12
by Doctor A
How Income Inequality Is Messing With Kids’ Brains
Inside the nationwide study exploring the link between poverty and brain development.

From: Mother Jones, Mike MarianiJul. 3, 2017 ... p-clinton/
"increasing evidence that poverty itself—and not factors like nutrition, language exposure, family stability, or prenatal issues, as previously thought—may diminish the growth of a child’s brain."
SO WHAT? With all the thousands of research studies linking income and economic inequality to social ills, do we really need another study linking poverty to negative cognitive outcomes?

The answer to the question is a definitive yes, but with the caveat, not right now.

With a conservative administration currently in place, doing a study like this is akin to having Donald Trump psychoanalyzed. Although a great cesspool of malignant, malformed, and immoral thoughts would most likely be found, it is inconsequential until he and his like-minded fellows are removed from office. Until that time, it will not matter his state of mind; we are forced to live with it. And just like Trump's mental status, we will have to live with the fact that research designed to help the poor is unlikely to produce meaningful post study governmental policies due to inaction on the part of the Republicans currently in control.

My view is not to diminish the importance of this type of research. To the contrary, I applaud the researcher's work and quest to better understand how poverty is linked to brain development. However, we already know the general direction in which income and economic inequality has taken humanity. Richard Wilkinson's video, "How economic inequality harms societies" and other resources clearly point out this harm. An emphasis on dissecting these harms into finer and finer parts at this time is no longer where the emphasis should be. Rather, the purpose needs to be on eradicating the harm's original cause of disease promoting inequality; doing another study at this time to confirm our hunches about the symptoms will be inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.

Surely it is helpful for the government to know whether or not dollars spent in one area of concern may be more beneficial and helpful than in another area. This is especially true at the early stages of brain development. But the main thrust of my argument suggests the $16 million scheduled to confirm the outcomes of this study would be better spent funding projects that attack the underlying causative issues. That is to say, it is a much better approach to eradicate the cause of these inequalities than to merely put out brush fires along the periphery of the inequality conflagration. Although the researchers make the point, "The policy implications are immense," without a way to enact the critical policies needed, the most likely result is this study's outcomes will go into the dustbin of history. Conservative thoughts will once again stand in the way of rational thought and progress. It is unfortunate but the fates of so many good progressive ideas are being stymied by Republican law makers. I doubt the outcome of this research will prove to be the exception.

I am keenly aware of the amount of time, effort, and emotional fortitude it takes for researchers to obtain funding of this nature, let alone do the research itself. Being sympathetic to their needs, I am not suggesting the cancelation of any contracts. But I too have a hypothesis that the world would be a much better place if the funding dollars were now focused on the root cause of the problem and not the symptoms. Frankly, we would not need to do as much scientific research related to negative issues if this was the case. Perhaps this hypothesis will be tested with the funding of the FirstRateCrowd website. I postulate it would be a step forward and in the right direction to use the resources available in a more meaningful and effective manner with such funding. Much of the research we fund today is superfluous in light of the fact that many ills of society will disappear once income and economic inequality disappear. Thinking otherwise only allows us to spin our wheels in needless frustration as we continue to sink deeper into the Republican mud.

More select portions of the article are as follows:
"the observation that poor kids tended to perform worse academically than their better-off peers. They wanted to investigate the neurocognitive underpinnings of this relationship—to trace the long-standing correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance back to specific parts of the brain.”

"scientists soon began using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to examine the brains of children across the socioeconomic spectrum. The results were striking. In one study Farah looked at 283 MRIs and found that kids from poorer, less-educated families tended to have thinner subregions of the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain strongly associated with executive functioning—than better-off kids. That could explain weaker academic achievement and even lower IQs."

"The policy implications are immense. If the data holds, simply moving a family’s income out of poverty might be enough to get that child much closer to cognitive developmental norms. And while we don’t yet know whether or how much these brain disparities persist into adulthood, this research—combined with past work demonstrating that people raised in poverty end up doing worse financially and suffering greater health problems than their more-affluent contemporaries over the course of their lifetimes—suggests they probably have lifelong effects."