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 branches from a mixture of environment and the genes. 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 elements such as stress, prenatal care and acquaintance to toxins have a resilient impact 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 much 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), it is clear that socioeconomic status has an affirmative cognitive functions impact on small kids. Jednoróg et al. (2012) confirmed from their findings that the children’s brain structure could be affected by the socioeconomic status. This is a clear indication that unfavorable environmental conditions do affect brain development. Adverse conditions are extreme than even stress and other deprivation conditions. Jednoróg et al. (2012) further claimed to have found a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and verbal, reading abilities. This confirms that language comprises some cognitive domains that are adversely impacted by the socioeconomic status. Jednoróg et al. (2012, concluded that hippocampus seems to be the utmost sensitive part of the brain structure to postnatal environmental variations. Higher amounts of stress heighten the sensitive part. It is also reduced by any environmental stimulations like low socioeconomic status. Therefore, 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), socioeconomic status affects most language processing skills. The SES has less effect on the executive function, predominantly the cognitive control and working memory. 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 up in poverty unsurprisingly does not conduct themselves in different ways from others. These kids do so despite being faced with tantalizing challenges that at some point may affluent them. These kids despite the background they hail from doe snot choose to behave differently. Their brains have adjusted to suboptimal surroundings. If we could understand the challenges these children go through, we can help them succeed in everything do through nurturing them. The combined factors they undergo include cognitive lags, social and emotional encounters, safety and health issues, chronic and acute stressors.

The human brain acts like a phone. The brain always “downloads” indiscriminately from the environs to figure out and absorb its adjacent world. The brain consumes either negative or positive receptors from the adjoining world. Jensen (2009) states that children achieve an intellect of mastery of their surroundings, these kids are expected to cultivate feelings of independence, self-worth, and confidence, which heavily play into the development of kids’ personalities and eventually envisage their happiness and success in life and relationships 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.






Hackman, D. A., Farah, M. J., & Meaney, M. J. (2010). Socioeconomic status and the brain: mechanistic insights from human and animal research. Nature reviews neuroscience, 11(9), 651.

Jednoróg, K., Altarelli, I., Monzalvo, K., Fluss, J., Dubois, J., Billard, C., … & Ramus, F. (2012). The influence of socioeconomic status on children’s brain structure. PloS one, 7(8), e42486.

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with poverty in mind: What being poor does to kids’ brains and what schools can do about it. AScD.

Pem, D. (2015). Factors affecting early childhood growth and development: golden 1000 days. Adv Practice Nurs, 1(101), 2573-0347.

Perkins, S. C., Finegood, E. D., & Swain, J. E. (2013). Poverty and language development: Roles of parenting and stress. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 10(4), 10.

Sleek, S. (2015). How poverty affects the brain and behavior. APS Observer, 28(7).