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How poverty molds the brain

Groundbreaking research nearly two decades ago linking a mother's educational background to her children's literacy and cognitive abilities stands out among decades of social science studies demonstrating the adverse effects of poverty. Now, research conducted at Northwestern University has taken that finding in a neuroscientific direction: linking poor processing of auditory information in the adolescent brain to a lower maternal educational background. "These adolescents had noisier neural activity than their classmates, even when no sound was presented," said Nina Kraus, professor of neurobiology, physiology and communication sciences at Northwestern. In addition, the neural response to speech for the adolescents from a lower maternal educational background was erratic over repeated stimulation, with lower fidelity to the incoming sound.

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