Do Smaller Bank Accounts Cause Smaller Brains? One Study Says “Yes.”

Scientific American recently released an article suggesting that “poverty shrinks brains from birth.”  The article is interesting, but misguided.  It is based upon a cross-sectional study that revealed that the brains of children in lower income households have 6% less surface area than their wealthier counterparts.  Put simply, it shows a correlation between bank account size and brain size.  The author’s mistake is equating correlation with causation.  Does poverty really shrink brains? It’s certainly possible.  Another explanation could be that the smaller bank accounts result from smaller brain sizes, which are largely hereditary.  Still, there’s no doubt that poverty takes an enormous toll on the development of children, and it will be interesting to follow this study to see if the causative link espoused by Scientific American can actually be established.

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