A study conducted by researchers at four universities has found that adults who grew up in low-income households and experienced the stresses of poverty have more problems regulating their emotions than other adults. The study, published on the website of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Denver.
The research found that test subjects who came from low-income families had greater activity in the amygdala area of the brain as adult. This area of the brain is associated with fear and other negative emotions. These individuals also showed lower brain activity in the prefrontal cortex which is associated with controlling negative emotions.
K. Luan Phan, professor of psychiatry at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and senior author of the study, stated, “Our findings suggest that the stress-burden of growing up poor may be an underlying mechanism that accounts for the relationship between poverty as a child and how well your brain works as an adult.”
This study is particularly important to African Americans. Some 21 percent of all American children under the age of 18 are now being reared in poverty. And Blacks are three times as likely to be poor as Whites.