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EVOLVING BRAIN: IMPACT OF INCOME INEQUALITY

  • Income inequality is an undeniable reality in India and in most other parts of the world
  • Research studies seek to understand how income levels may be correlated with differences in the structure of the human brain.
  • The brain evolves constantly over a person’s lifespan
  • This happens as a response to the brain’s external environment—which is the totality of all stimuli which have historically been transmitted to the brain via all of the human senses.
  • In the brain, form and function are deeply interwoven.
  • Learning results in a change in the connectivity and structure of the brain, and therefore the type of activity it is able to produce, and the subsequent nature of learning it is capable of
  • The physical structure of the brain and its processing capacity are two sides of the same coin
  • Science has shown us that the structure of the brain is shaped by the complexity of the stimulus environment one encounters
  • The greater stimuli has far reaching impact on gene expression in the brain, the growth of new neurons and the number of connections between them, and how synapses “learn”. This translates to changes in terms of brain volume and surface area.
  • Modern brains are evolving and altering their capability and potential at a much faster rate.
  • Access to modern complexity is largely determined by a person’s income.
  • By spending on things like technology, transport and education, one essentially buys a more complex and faster pace of stimulus to the brain
  • Studies have shown that income, particularly childhood poverty, has a dramatic negative effect on brain volume and surface area, as well as the complexity of patterns of electrical activity produced by the brain.
  • Years of education have been shown to bear a positive correlation with these aspects.
  • When we draw poverty lines, we typically go by what funds are sufficient to fuel the human body and thereby keep away hunger, but not what the mind needs
  • We have a long way to go to realize the cognitive potential of the country.
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October 2022
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