Issues and Trends: Economists, Neuroscientists, and Politicians as Early Childhood Advocates

Children from low-income families experience a type of auditory impoverishment:

In urban populations, income and amount of noise exposure are known to be correlated. Consistent with the idea that noisy auditory environments increase neural noise, the new Journal of Neuroscience study found that the adolescents from the lower maternal educational group have increased neural activity in the absence of sound input.

According to the study, “Neural models indicate that when the input to a neuron is noisier, the firing rate becomes more variable, ultimately limiting the amount of sensory information that can be transmitted. If your brain is creating a different signal each time you hear a sound, you might be losing some of the details of the sound.

In addition, IQ assessments for the students were collected, and they were administered a standardized, age-normed test battery of reading ability and executive function (working memory). Previous work has revealed that the neurobiological systems mediating higher order functions such as language, memory and executive function are especially sensitive to disparities in socioeconomic status. By studying socioeconomic status within a neuroscientific framework, we have the potential to expand our understanding of the biological signatures of poverty, according to the news release. “And a better understanding of how experiences shape the brain could inform educational efforts aimed at closing the socioeconomic achievement gap.

. Early childhood research reported nearly two decades ago linking a mother’s educational background to her children’s literacy and cognitive abilities stands out among decades of social science studies demonstrating the adverse effects of poverty. Now new research conducted at Northwestern University has taken that finding in a neuroscientific direction: linking poor processing of auditory information in the adolescent brain (NAEYC and NAECS/SDE. (2003).

I did not change any of my views on early childhood research. The resources I searched enhanced and peaked my awareness of all the work needed as a professional. I want to advocate even more for global, local, and state funding. We must eradicate poverty. I do feel we should start at home first and reach the needed community on the local and state levels. A watchful eye should be in place for curriculum writers and planners. We must get quality education for all children and not just words on paper.


NAEYC and NAECS/SDE. (2003). Early childhood curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from

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3 thoughts on “Issues and Trends: Economists, Neuroscientists, and Politicians as Early Childhood Advocates

  1. Birdie,
    Neuroscience has done a lot of beneficial research that can help us in the early childhood field. Thanks to neuroscience we know how poverty affects our children’s brain structure. Just as you mentioned language, memory and executive function are especially sensitive to disparities in socioeconomic status. There is so much work to be done to end the plight of poverty and childhood hunger and we must begin at the early stages with our children. There is a lot of information here that is very useful to the cause of securing the best futures for our children.


  2. Birdie,

    I strongly agree with you as future advocates that want to eradicate poverty, we have to start at home first. The Annie E.Casey Foundation stated that home visiting is a strategy that address the needs both children and families. It equips parents and their children with the tools to help eradicate poverty. Be sure to visit the website


    • Cherlie,
      Thanks for your comments! Starting at home to eradicatethe poverty is a MUST. I feel you and I am on board 100%. I will visit the website soon. I can not wait to read the info.


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