Low Socioeconomic Status Compromises the Brain Development

Low Socioeconomic Status Compromises the Brain Development

Low socioeconomic status seemingly holds an unbreakable grip on the neighborhoods, cities and even the entire country. Poverty stretches from one kinfolk to the other, trapping individual in a poverty pit that is virtually impossible to climb. The unending poverty cycle constitutes suppressing effects on a person’s cognitive attention, executive functioning, and development (Sleek, 2015). Indeed, over the recent years, so much have been documented about folks who come from low family income, those who have limited access to healthcare facilities, those that face discrimination and those who are exposed to crime. These kind of people are susceptible to mental and physical disorders, low IQ scores and low education attainment. Low socioeconomic status is just a complex construct (Pem, 2015). The concept of Low socioeconomic status is based on material resources, occupation, household income, and education. This concept is also related to family characteristics, parental care, stimulating cognitive environment, exposure to violence and the unworthy adjacent neighborhood. It is a fact that the above constructs affect the cognitive and emotional development to a certain degree of our brain. Therefore, low socioeconomic status compromises brain development.

Brain development stems from a combination of environment and the genes. The process of brain development starts with the genes. The behavioral genetics which constitutes DNA account for 35-50percent of our brain development and 50-75 percent accounts to the surrounding environment (Sleek, 2015). Various factors such as stress, prenatal care and exposure to toxins have a strong influence on our brain development. The process of epigenetics highlights that brain development relies heavily on nurture and nature (Perkins, Finegood, & Swain, 2013). The genes that account to a considerable junk of percentage can change with any heritable alterations without distorting the sequence of their primary DNA (Pem, 2015). On the other hand, the environment affects the composition of cell receptors significantly. It is the cell receptors which send signals that usually help in the brain development of an individual. The structure of our genes can either be shut or activated by the host environmental factors that include nutrition, stress and socioeconomic status. The gene shutdown or activations can either impair or strengthen memory development, learning, aggression or immune function. Therefore, those individuals from lower socioeconomic status and reside in an unconducive environment can easily compromise their brain development.

According to research done by Jednoróg et al. (2012), they stated that “Parental socioeconomic status has been shown to affect cognitive functions in children. Here, we obtained further confirmation of these effects, and we provide evidence that SES is also associated with children’s brain structure.” This is a clear indication that unfavorable environmental conditions do affect brain development. Unfavorable conditions are extreme than even stress and other deprivation conditions. Jednoróg et al. (2012) further stated that “we found positive correlations between SES, reading and verbal abilities, confirming that language is one of the cognitive domains most affected by SES. Correlations with other cognitive skills were not significant, although there were trends concerning working memory and visuospatial skills that might require greater statistical power.” Jednoróg et al. (2012, concluded that “it seems that hippocampus might be one of the most sensitive brain structures to variations in post-natal environment such as heightened amounts of stress and reductions in environmental stimulation in low SES families” hence, this is an indication that low socioeconomic status compromises the brain development

It is not difficult to discern the link between mental health, intelligence,  academic performance and that of socioeconomic status since its variable outcome can be diagnosed with school achievements, IQ and diagnostic classifications that reflect on the socio-cognitive and emotional systems (Perkins et al. 2013). The socioeconomic status affects the neurocognitive and emotional systems of some folks than others.  According to Hackman, Farah, & Meaney (2010), “largest effects of SES are on language processing, with more moderate effects on executive function — particularly on working memory and cognitive control.” Hackman et al. 2010 further claims, “effect of SES on vocabulary, phonological awareness (the ability to reflect on the sound and structure of language; an important ability for learning to read) and syntax.” Thus, the associations between human brain functioning and socioeconomic status can be deduced to be in harmony; in fact, they have a devastating effect on brain development.

Some individuals such as Jensen (2009) have questioned this theory which links socioeconomic status with brain development. The socioeconomic status (SES) might form a part of this equation, but other reliable pieces of evidence do substitute the above claim. A child who is raised in poverty naturally does not behave differently from others despite being faced with irresistible challenges that may affluent him or her. Jensen (2009) says that “children raised in poverty rarely choose to behave differently, but they are faced daily with overwhelming challenges that affluent children never have to confront, and their brains have adapted to suboptimal conditions.” Jansen (2009) further states that “a better understanding of these challenges points out for actions that educators can take to help their less-advantaged students succeed.” These combined factors include cognitive lags, emotional and social challenges, health and safety issues, acute and chronic stressors.

The human brain acts like a phone. The brain always “downloads” indiscriminately from the environment in an attempt to figure out and absorb its surrounding world. The brain absorbs either negative or positive receptors from the surrounding world. Jensen (2009) states that “When children gain a sense of mastery of their environments, they are more likely to develop feelings of self-worth, confidence, and independence, which play heavily into the formation of children’s personalities and ultimately predict their success and happiness in relationships and life in general.”

All in all, low socioeconomic status compromises the brain development of individuals. Low socioeconomic status holds an unbreakable grip on neighborhoods, cities and even countries. The concept of Low socioeconomic status which is based on material resources, occupation, household income, and education is related to family characteristics, parental care, stimulating cognitive environment, exposure to violence and the adjacent neighborhood. It is a fact that the above constructs affect the cognitive and emotional development to a certain degree of brain development.