Growing up poor can impair kids' prefrontal cortex activity -- but it can be restored with games

A paper in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience describes a study that concludes that poor children aged 9 and 10 are likely to have lowered brain activity, comparable to a stroke victim. The researchers say that it's due to growing up in a stressful, "resource poor" environment, with "fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums." However, the effects can be remediated through playing stimulating games.

"When paying attention to the triangles, the prefrontal cortex helps you process the visual stimuli better. And the prefrontal cortex is even more involved in detecting novelty, like the unexpected photographs," he said. But in both cases, "the low socioeconomic kids were not detecting or processing the visual stimuli as well. They were not getting that extra boost from the prefrontal cortex."

"These kids have no neural damage, no prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, no neurological damage," Kishiyama said. "Yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be. This difference may manifest itself in problem solving and school performance."

Poor Children's Brain Activity Resembles That Of Stroke Victims, EEG Shows