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Family's economic situation influences brain function in children
Date:11/28/2012

tional and motivational state, at different times.

In the afternoon, the participants' brain waves were recorded while they performed a task in which they heard different sounds being played simultaneously into both ears, and were required to press a button as fast as possible when they heard one particular sound.

There were no significant differences between the two groups in the accuracy or reaction time during the task. The researchers did, however, observe differences in brain wave patterns between the two groups. Higher SES children exhibited far larger theta waves in response to sounds they attended to than to than those they should have ignored. In the lower SES children, however, this pattern was reversed the theta waves evoked by the unattended sounds were much larger than those for the attended sounds.

There were also significant differences between the two groups in the contributions of the left and right hemispheres lower SES children exhibited stronger theta waves in the right frontal lobe in response to attended sounds.

Overall, the lower SES children had higher cortisol levels than the higher SES children during the school day, but the differences before and after the attention task were small, suggesting that the stress response of both groups to the task was similar. And the questionnaires revealed that both groups experienced similar levels of boredom and motivation throughout the day and a similar increase of boredom before the attention task.

The findings suggest that lower SES children have to exert more cognitive control to avoid attending to irrelevant stimuli than higher SES children, and that doing so therefore requires more mental effort. This may be because they live in more threatening environments, in which it might be advantageous to pay attention to a broad range of environmental stimuli which are not unambiguous distractions, and may turn out to be important for survival.

"We are now studying how other dom
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Contact: Amedeo D'Angiulli
amedeo@connect.carleton.ca
613-520-2600 x2954
Frontiers
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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