And finally…Money can’t buy happiness but maybe bigger brains, claim scientists

Money can increase brain surface and intellectual performance, according to a new study.

While hard cash might not be able to literally buy another brain, researchers have found that regardless of genetic ancestry, a family’s socioeconomic status can be traced as the difference in children’s brain surfaces.

That is the finding published by the journal Nature Neuroscience in its report entitled “Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents”.

Researchers came to their conclusions after trawling a pediatric database known as the Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition Genetics project that includes brain images, genotypes, cognitive tests and developmental history of more than 1,000 children, aged 3 to 20.

It also includes information on income and education of the parents.

The researchers found that income was the only variable that accounts for the difference in brain surfaces of the children.

The brain scans of children and adolescents show that in poorer families, children’s brains are less developed than those of children from wealthier families.

This affected language, reading, and spatial skills of the children.

The researchers do not believe that children born poor are not smart or will not have the opportunity to raise their families economic levels since lots of poor achieve high educational goals.

“We think that if we could make changes to enrich environments that we could alter development,” said Elizabeth Sowell, lead investigator of the study and a developmental neuroscientist at the Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

She added: “We’ve known for a long time that cognitive development, school performance and productivity in adult life can be impacted by socioeconomic status, but now we’re actually seeing it in the brain,” said The researchers observed that even a small increase for those on the low- to middle-income scale have a disproportionately bigger effect on children’s brain size and scores on cognitive tests.

“Money can buy better education, homes in areas further away from freeways; It can buy guitar lessons.  It can buy after-school programs; it can buy better healthcare, better nutrition,” added Sowell.  “It’s all of those things that money can buy that lead to more enriched experiences for children in wealthier families.”

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