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More Evidence That Environment Shapes Childrens’ Brains

Two children play in a classroom. A girl with pigtails reaches her hands into a tub of water and yellow plastic boats. A boy with a red shirt squishes sand in a blue tub.
(Mariana Dale
/
LAist )
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New research provides more evidence to support the idea that where children grow up affects how they grow up.

A nationwide study of kids' brain development found that family poverty, low education rates and unemployment can affect children's performance on attention and memory tests, and even the size of their brains.

Megan Herting, a senior author of the study and an assistant professor of preventive medicine at USC, said that the research could have broad implications.

"Neighborhoods seem to play a role in how these children are doing or how their brains may be developing,” she said. “That's important for thinking about how we create equity in neighborhoods, and also opportunity and resources for every child."

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The study follows approximately 8,000 nine- and 10-year-olds in cities around the country, including Los Angeles. Researchers plan to follow them until they turn 21.