Magazine article USA TODAY

Does Money Beget Bigger Brains?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Does Money Beget Bigger Brains?

Article excerpt

Many years of research have shown that, for students from lower-income families, standardized test scores and other measures of academic success tend to lag behind those of wealthier students.

A study led by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and Harvard University offers another dimension to this so-called "achievement gap": after imaging the brains of high- and low-income middle school students, they found that the higher-income students had a thicker brain cortex in areas associated with visual perception and knowledge accumulation. Furthermore, these differences also correlated with one measure of academic achievement --performance on standardized tests.

"Just as you would expect, there's a real cost to not living in a supportive environment. We can see it not only in test scores and educational attainment, but within the brains of these children," says MIT coauthor John Gabrieli, professor of brain and cognitive sciences. 'To me, it's a call to action. You want to boost the opportunities for those for whom it doesn't come easily in their environment. …

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