Janice D'Arcy asks this provocative question in her On Parenting column, then says the answer is no, but.
The question arises due to a study by Kimberly Noble, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, in conjunction with Elizabeth Sowell, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California.
The essence of their findings are that the spawn of poorly educated parents have a larger fear organ (the amygdala), which is put down to a more stressful life, and well-off kids have more learning and memory capacity (the hippocampus), credited to their access to a richer range of experiences growing up.
So why the "no"? Noble answers that, “Certainly, income or education alone are not what causes the differences. Rather, it’s likely it the things that income and education are associated with have something to do with it."
Forgive me, this is like saying your high heeled shoes are not what makes you look taller, rather it's the angle of view they afford other people.
But what else s new? Socioeconomic status, or SES, is regularly controlled for in all sorts of studies relating to education.
The reporter asks "if the results suggest that disadvantaged upbringings cause brain deficiencies — a frightening prospect." If a relatively large amygdala and a relatively puny hippocampus could be called brain deficiencies, then yes, it does. But they can't, so it doesn't. Different isn't deficient, it's not even abnormal, unless rich kids are your basis for what's normal.
The question should be, "Does poverty affect how a child’s brain develops?" And the answer, of course, is yes. It affects their life experience, which impacts everything.
You want policy recommendations? Fix poverty. End of story.