OFFICIAL: exposure to poverty makes you dumb and dumber.

Neuroscience unearths uncomfortable truths in new US study

“People…need to know the importance of the brain….They need to know it’s changed by experience. They need to know that genes are not destiny.”

An extensive research project carried out by the University of Oregon last year has confirmed the findings of smaller studies around the world: the more exposed you are to poverty (and the longer it continues) the dumber you get.

“Children growing up in poverty, for various reasons, have much poorer brain development and cognitive development than children growing up in more upscale environments,” says project leader and Neuroscientist Helen Neville, When we look at electrophysiological and MRI studies of their brains we can see differences between higher and lower socio-economic status children. Executive function and self-control is lower, language skills are lower, IQ is lower, attention — the ability to focus on one thing and ignore distracting information — is poorer, and working memory is poorer.”

While this sounds like grist to the mill of far-Right geneticists, in fact it isn’t any such thing. First, the study has shown that this ‘learned’ brain arangement can be reversed. And second, it shows conclusively that if nothing is done, the syndrome gets worse and mars adult behaviour….a syndrome with which all social realists will be familiar. Ms Neville continues:

“We’ve also observed, it’s important to note, these same differences in adults. Most people focus just on kids. But … in our lab we’ve looked at adults from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds, and their brains and cognition look really different too. So these effects are long-lasting.”

Naturally, the chicken-and-egg factor remains: do genetically less bright people wind up with lower socio-economic status anyway? The answer is they must in some cases. But the question becomes somewhat academic until such time as some genius decides to erase those featurs from a foetus. More significant is the reality that intervention can help:

“After several training studies targeting different processes, we observed that the two most effective interventions we could do is to train attention in these kids, so we’ve developed little games and puzzles for kids to do that they enjoy doing, to target self-control and attention, ” Neville adds, “And the other training we’re doing at the same time is with the parents of those children, who we talk to about parent skills, the importance of talking to your child and using consistent discipline, giving choices and the importance of attention and self-regulation.”

Not kidnapping their children, then? No, Helen Neville doesn’t mention that, she being a scientist rather than a polemically blinded social worker.

The study has obvious ramifications for Government policy in the fields of social intervention and education. It also tends to confirm the view held by sane people, viz – lower socio-economic presence at top Universities has more to do with IQ and home environment than class prejudice. One wonders if the Harmaband Labour Party can take the findings of this study on board. But one doesn’t wonder for long, really.

Equally, however, the study gives support to the Duncan-Smiths and Goves of this world in their quest to reverse the slide into lower and lower standards of achievement and behaviour. It puts the Tory Right back in its box too – and offers the Cameroons a real chance to justify a bold, united policy handled jointly by the DWP and DoE.

Above all, it says that the longer we ignore the truth about people in ‘poverty’ (which is only poverty in a narrowly self-regarding European sense) the worse the problem will get. The Left’s solution will be to keep lowering the bar. The Right’s answer is to double the Police budget. Neither are correct: what these findings show is that government needs to do something new and proactive in order to snip the vicious circle.

As for myself, I wonder why there aren’t more MPs reading this sort of thing, as opposed to getting pissed in the Commons Bar, or chasing non-exec directorships. What I won’t do is hold my breath waiting for the Coalition to notice this remarkable piece of research.



26 thoughts on “OFFICIAL: exposure to poverty makes you dumb and dumber.

  1. John

    You write, “what these findings show is that government needs to do something new and proactive..”

    When can i ask has Govt EVER in its miserable criminal history achieved what it has stated? In fact let’s go further, when has it not ever achieved the exact OPPOSITE of its stated aim??

    Answers on a postcard to: I”ve never studied history or learned anything about Govt in my life Dept.

    Next do you not think it very patronising (at best) and ever so Nazi Superior Being to tell the poor they’re not coming up to YOUR and these Oregon ‘researchers’ standards on intelligence and attention spans?

    A tree sits in the ground and does its own thing all its life and nobody questions its IQ level or says it has to shape up on paying attention or it will in-rolled in a correctional facility. You-re not only for that you’re for the scum of Govt to spend taxpayers money chasing that elitest social engineering.

    How do YOU or these Oregon researchers face up to the poor on moral codes, how to play with their children or how valuable a social life they have? How about they start judging you by looking down their nose at YOUR lifestyle.

    You-re one very tiny step from being a total creep


  2. Nintendo Brain Training is fairly old now.
    Be interesting to see if its balls or not, were any of the “games” provided in the report?


  3. Mmmmm Velocity. I think you’ve been sat in front of the telly too long. I do believe you have missed the point by a very wide margin.

    However I do think this research is one of the biggest statements of the bleeding obvious since they discovered the Pope is actually a practicing Catholic and bears occasionally defecate in wooded parts of the countryside.

    OF COURSE kids who lack stimulation get dumber.
    OF COURSE kids who get paid more attention and have a wider rage of activities both cerebral and physical get brighter.
    (Not against arbitrary standards set by some cranky researchers in Oregon, Veracity, but by comparing stimulated children versus unstimulated, exercised V not exercised, to whom attention has been paid and those ignored or left in front of the telly.

    Sadly, inevitably, those people finding themselves in poverty have less time, less energy, poorer education and less overall wherewithal to provide the amount of stilumus and attention provided by those who are financially better off. (This is a general rule of course – there are millions of exceptions! Just think of the number of geniuses who have grown out of abject poverty).

    One of the greatest aims of the social welfare state – at least when I was a lad – was to provide an equal chance for all by providing a good level of education for all – and hopefully of equal quality to all. But the middle classes and the better off soon put paid to that. It’s one of the main reasons why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. And bankers get away with it.

    I wonder what’s going to happen when WikiLeaks publishes details of all those Swiss Bank accounts?


  4. Duncan

    What has sitting infront of the tv and my statement about Oregons academic Nazis and Johns own social engineering for the poor (pro Govt intervention) got to do with it Einstein?

    You’re connecting 2 dots that aren-t even closely related without delusional thinking. My observation and your (absurd) speculation about my tv habits (nothing could be further from truth BTW).

    Whoever thought they had any f**king right to judge other peoples worth by IQ and attention spans in thew first place and then like God set the standard for othewr humans is on the sad side of being a retard (ie. most academics who live in a LaLa Land)

    And whichever academic thought patronising the poors IQ and attention spans should be sacked. And on a second count both they and John considering the social engineering by getting their kids to play games like Lab Monkeys should be undergoing mental treatment

    As for your statement, “I do believe you have missed the point by a very wide margin” can i humbly suggest I’m bang on the button and it’s you that look to be typically academically missing the point of this disturbingly fascist research


  5. John Iread your article and those of the bloggers and you all seem to have missed the most important part of the equation, i.e money. Where I live in Radlett herts we have a lot of the pre schools such as Radlett Prep. Mrs Briggs and Habberdashers pre-school,all very expensive but not to the wealthy.Junior and senior schools are ALDENHAM Public school Habberdashers and JFS. All very expensive again.Slightly lower down the scale WAtford boys and girls both state schools but with very high standards where your adress is noted and both you and your siblings are interviewed,all getting good entrances to Oxbridge etc,but Habs always coming out on top.The boy next door to us went to Habs and on to Cambridge not because he was brighter but because his grandparents paid out thousands of pounds for private tuters not only pre Habs but all the way To Cambridge and beyond.Thats why the poor have no chance,its the money stupid.


  6. Thank God somebody understood the piece.
    It is the very condescending attitudes of the bright who come from comfortable and stable homes which lead to the averagely intelligent from poor homes being written off as dependent monkeys. The assumption of the Hampstead Left is always that The Poor are where they are because of bourgeois class hatred. The truth is, they are there because of a crap education system and overly-generous welfare….both of which were introduced by…etc etc etc.


  7. See below, chum. You’re still miles form the point – probably a result of an overdose of libertarianism.

    The key phrase in your comment is ‘disturbingly fascist’. Bollocks – it’s empiricist.


  8. I agree with every word of this. Why is it you think I’ve missed your point?
    Who introduced Comprehensive education – the poor? No – the bourgeois Left.
    Who gave private education a leg up by f**king up State Grammar schools? The bourgeois Left.
    Who kidnaps poor single mothers’ kids – Tory fascists? No – bourgeois uni-educated social workers.

    The piece wishes only to point out a simple fact: empirical research shows that those with no money don’t need lots of money (a la bloody daft Lottery) they need education – be they parents or kids.
    If it winds up being patronising, that’ll be the fault of those who execute the policy – not me.


  9. John, for you I’m sure to be stating the obvious. The roots of the word “education” have to with NOT stuffing in, but drawing forth. Just googled to find :

    The Romans considered educating to be synonymous with drawing knowledge out of somebody or leading them out of regular thinking.

    Seems they knew that the intelligence was already there, waiting to be drawn forth into the awareness of the student.

    What we have here in the West is NOT education, not any more.

    Alan Douglas


  10. I can’t refrain from commenting here. I have managed very large call centre and engineering operations during the 1990ies and 2000s. Lots of young adults (1,000s) from disadvantaged backrounds, (Bracknell, Wythenshawe, Central London) many classified as “no Hopers”, no qualifications, no hope. 98% just wanted SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE to BELIEVE in them and give them a chance. And you know what, when you do they FLY for you, they achieve great things. I have concluded the following in 25 years of working with young people:
    1) Their innate trust keeps you alive and provide immense joy in life, until cynical elders crush them.
    2) 98% are desperate to believe in a better future and will do all they can to make it happen. IF you give them true leadership, now a rare commodity.
    3) You have to accept that, like it or not, totally un-PC, up to 2% are EVIL! And you have to deal with that. They screw it up for the rest and need extraordinary measures to contain them but unchecked they Bugger it up for the rest. Look in the eyes and you see them instantly. No feeling, no care for others.

    Right now, the current elder generation (Me?) is letting youth down by poor leadership and example. The blank slatistists fail to protect them from fundamental (Genetic?)evil and NOONE gives them moral leadership. They feel lost because they can’t TRUST anyone to show them the way. Most of our youth are better emotionally connected, more socially aware and you may be surprised to know, better informed than we ever were at our age, you just don’t hear about them because they are the silent majority of younger people. You don’t speak their language and you have to LISTEN intensely to understand their point of view, that is YOUR problem, not theirs.
    Age brings many things, the immensity of everything you do not know and everything you do know that is wrong. spring into sharp relief. If you do not believe in youth to deal with the problems you now see, what do you have left?


  11. Velocity
    Facts are Facts.
    This is Fact.
    Facts have no political views.

    If you tried to use this fact to kidnap children from families you deem “bad”, that could be argued as “insert word here”.


  12. John

    You are not asking for simple education. You wrote, “government needs to do something new and proactive in order to snip the vicious circle”.

    Where do you want your social engineering to start and do you know where to stop before we reach the ethnic cleansing of the poor?

    And you’ve answered neither of my questions.

    1. When has Govt ever achieved anything?

    2. What gives you the right to patronise the poors lifestyle, set standards for their IQ, set standards for their attention spans.

    I bet the poors beat both your levels on their chosen subjects.

    It’s a myth the poors brains are any different to ours. It’s a muscle and can be worked when needs be. Most of them can probably drive better than you, socialise better than you and run just as valuable of lives by their own choice.

    Who asked you anyway to but in? It’s their lives.

    This Oregon Uni research is a disgrace


  13. You’re suffering from an over dose of butting into other peoples lives with the favourite tool of fascists/marxists, Government.

    Yo don’t understand what Govt is, a monopoly power structure, which is why it NEVER works.

    Only competition improves things for both sides of the curve (supplier and end-user). Only competition is DESIGNED to keep both sides honest.

    Park your pontificating arse in Govt and you’ve no competition. You can do what you like, you can socially engineer the poor with a dozen retarded schemes of yours.

    That’s why Govt has never worked in human history and delivering anything. Everything Govt touches turns to crap because anything any monpoly that doesn’t have to compete can sit on its fat fascist or Marxist arse and write 1,000 Laws telling you how to behave.

    Has the penny dropped yet?

    How many decades and you didn’t understand why you’ve been ranting at Govt all your life?

    Freedom & Free Markets. The ONLY mechanisms that work (no Govt required)


  14. Answer the quesztion John.

    When has Govt ever achieved what it said it would?

    When has Govt ever NOT achieved the exact opposite of what it set out to achieve?

    How many times do i have to ask. Think you need more social engineering than the poor!!


  15. In regards to point number 3, my dad used to teach at some rough inner london schools and he said you could spot the evil ones at age 11 and if they were left unchecked turned into the future thugs, rapists and murders.


  16. Velocity what are you talking about?

    All John is saying is give everyone a decent education. If you are poor you have far less choice as you can’t get out the system and go private. It’s not the lack of money in itself that causes people to have a lower IQ, it’s the fact that the parents aren’t, according to the article, ‘the importance of talking to your child and using consistent discipline, giving choices and the importance of attention and self-regulation’.

    This is a proper empiracal piece of research, asking the question, ‘is there a correlation between socio-economic status and IQ?’ and they found there was. No one here is saying this is a good thing, in fact the total opposite.

    As for social-engineering, where is that mentioned? By saying that people should be given a proper education?

    As for this stuff about who decides about IQ and and why don’t we test tree’s IQ, science chose the measurements and as for why they are tested, they are part of society, they interact with society, work jobs, claim benefits, use the health care etc. They are part of the whole and if we can improve and help everyone, then that is for the benefit of society. I’ve never seen a tree walk into a hospital, job or job centre, if you do please send me a photo as I’d be really interested in seeing it.

    I suggest you lay of the meds or whatever you’ve been smoking because you seem to be seeing things that aren’t there…


  17. These are “facts” of researchers with a social engineering purpose and funded by taxpayers no less, but when did any political party have a we’ll test the poors IQ (and patronise them) and then work out some monkey Lab games for their kids to improve their clear lack of academic IQ.

    See the friggin difference?

    If you can’t then here’s 20 hours of Oregon Uni common sense enhancing patronising games for you to play until YOU come up to MY standard.


  18. As Trayes says the poor are more than capable of improving (and coming up to the fascists standards) if and when needed. Like a car or our body muscles we have vast spare quantities of everything just in case but we don’t use the brains full capacity, norour cars, nor train our body muscles when we don’t need them.

    So to say a car is worthless because some patronising socially dysfunctional Nazi academic wants to apply their ‘standards’ of how we should live according to their view is a long way up the stairs to social engineering. And John’s fallen into that trap


  19. John

    This is not to say you are wrong, but don’t you think that Velocity has a point? Aren’t you assuming that the current hierarchical structure is a given, and that therefore the problem of asymmetric achievement by upbringing requires the focus of attention to be on the upbringing? Is there not a case that it may be more fruitful to address, instead, the structure of the hierarchy – perhaps by narrowing the differentials of power and reward between steps?

    Could it be that modern celebrity worship is symptomatic of a society that sees its hierarchies too much as measurements of worth, and too little as just organisational efficiencies for general benefit?


  20. This is a very interesting article. These findings, though not necessarily surprising, confirm some things that true educators have been stating for some time. It is nice to see that new imagining tools, such as MRI scanners, are being used in such groundbreaking studies.


  21. Very heartfelt comment this, and one with which I largely agree. As Alan Douglas said, the thrill of teaching is getting out creative stuff and INSPIRING kids written off by others. I have a teacher chum who says time and again “I can work all day with a kid who’s stupid, but not one whose ignorant parents have given him the desire to screw it up for everyone else”. This is also what the Calif study is saying: it’s as much about giving the parents as the kids hope.
    Velocity calls this fascist and asks what right I have to butt in. My answer is simple: because if nobody does, one day they’ll shoot someone’s kid or auntie or grandchild – and it might be mine. It doesn’t HAVE TO have anything to do with government. It just needs somebody without a polemical agend who wants to make society a safer, happier place.


  22. What I probably think is that if Velo could remain civil, he too would be taken a lot more seriously.

    I know how this kind of social emergency stuff often sounds – or even worse, how it reads on a cold, humming pc screen. But he makes two entirely false assumptions. One, that I am some kind of Mengele keen to experiment on folks. And two, that I’m here to answer his questions and I ABSOLUTELY MUST answer them in order to (quote) ‘come up to his standard’. All sounds a bit Gestapo amd superiority complex to me.


  23. John

    You have a nonsense liberal idea clogging your brain that needs sweeping out once and for all.

    Society is what it is. End of. Every nancy do-good idea of changing it for the better fails (miserably). Stop trying to change society, it won’t ever listen, got it? You start with your liberal ideas and you end up with Marxism and Fascism in baby steps.

    Shove your liberal nonsense idea out of your head Govt is a vehicle for good. History demonstrates time after time in every country it iterates it is a ratchet for scum (evil).

    Only free society and free markets work. They are SELF REGULATING mechanisms….. no Govt required.


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