Poverty and Brain Development During Childhood: An Approach from Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience

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Poverty remains an urgent crisis worldwide. In the United States, 28.6 million children live in low-income families and 12.7 million children live in poor families. In nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 47 million children live below national poverty lines. These figures pertain to industrialized countries; rates of child poverty in some developing nations exceed 60%. Poverty and Brain Development During Childhood examines how a range of early social and material deprivations affect structural and functional brain organization and cognitive and socioemotional development postnatally and throughout childhood. Do conceptual and operational definitions of poverty capture the true nature and complexity of the multidimensional problem and properly guide research? How does poverty affect physical and mental health? What do contemporary neuroimaging and behavioral studies reveal? Studying these and other equally compelling questions, the authors apply a suite of neuroscientific and cognitive frameworks to examine the cognitive performance of children living in poverty in different countries. Looking to the future and to the development of effective policy, the authors analyze the potential contributions of the neuroscientific disciplines to the design of early interventions aimed at optimizing the cognitive performance of socioeconomically disadvantaged children.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: The effects of poverty are sometimes obvious, as with children of low weight or poor dentition, but the effects on underlying physiological systems, such as the brain, can easily be overlooked. This book discusses the effects of poverty on brain development.
Purpose: The purpose is to heighten awareness of the effect of poverty on the central and critical issue of brain development and its relationship to broader outcomes.
Audience: Clinicians, researchers, educators, and public policy makers from varying backgrounds will appreciate the information in this book. Although some of the neuroscience may be a bit advanced, the underlying issues are well within the grasp of most readers. The authors are experienced and qualified to address this issue.
Features: As is always important when embarking on explorations such as this, the first chapter defines and addresses terminology and key theoretical issues so that readers start with a common understanding. Discussions of the impact on development in terms of health and education follow, along with more detail on the neurological consequences of poverty. Intervention programs are described, as well as research on their effectiveness. Finally, public policy is explored with recommendations for a variety of areas, such as measurement, intervention, education, and ethics. Each chapter has clear headings and a summary section. The main weakness lies in the subpar grayscale figures that can be difficult to decipher. A few color plates would have really helped. Otherwise, the references are very current, some from just last year, and the index is helpful.
Assessment: The authors have succeeded in their goal of raising awareness of the impact of poverty on brain development, and have done so in a book that will have wide appeal across disciplines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433804458
  • Publisher: American Psychological Association
  • Publication date: 6/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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