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A new experiment to see how poverty affects the young brain

The aim of the study was to collect data on the brain activity of children aged 1 to 3 years during home visits. Եւ Researchers were able to obtain the first data set for about two-thirds of children in a comprehensive data epidemic. Because home visits are not yet possible, they spread the study until they were 4 years old, and next year they will collect a second collection of brain data instead of this year.

The epidemic, like the two incentive payments that many Americans received last year, no doubt affected the participating families in different ways, as did this year’s incentive checks and the new monthly payments. But because the study is randomized, researchers still expect to be able to assess the impact of the cash gift, said Dr. Noble.

The infant’s first years are seen as a bold attempt to prove the causal link between poverty reduction and “brain development” through randomized testing. “It’s definitely one, if not the first,” in this evolving field that has a direct impact on politics, says Martha Farah, a cognitive neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Neurology and Society Center for Poverty Research.

Professor Farah, however, acknowledges that sociologists and policymakers often reduce the capacity of brain data. “Are there any practical insights that we get from bringing in neuroscience, or do people just snow through the beautiful images of the brain, the impressive words of neuroscience?” That’s a big question, “he said.

There are many skeptics. University of Chicago Nobel Prize-winning economist James Ames Hackman, who studies inequality and social mobility, said he did not see “even a hint of politics coming out of it, rather than saying yes, there is a sign of a better economic life.”

“And the question remains, what is the real mechanism by which giving cash to parents helps children’s brains,” he said, adding that directly targeting such a mechanism could be և cheaper, և more effective.

Siswell Hammond, director of the Niskane Center for Poverty and Welfare, who worked on Senator Mitt Romney’s child benefit offer, agrees that it is difficult to trace the source of the cognitive benefits. “I find it difficult to dismantle the interventions that actually help the most,” he said. For example, policy experts discuss whether certain childcare programs directly benefit the child’s brain or simply dismiss the guardian to get a job or increase the family income.


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