Study: Poverty Impairs Brain Function

It's not just that being poor is difficult; according to a new study, poverty actually makes it harder for you to think.

Which is unfortunate, because poor people need all the brainpower they can get to figure out how to get the fuck out of poverty. This study, in Science, outlines one way that poverty feeds on itself:

The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich... We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor.

The study's authors say that "The cognitive deficit of being preoccupied with money problems was equivalent to a loss of 13 IQ points, losing an entire night's sleep or being a chronic alcoholic."

In a just world the rich would have these problems. Where is the equilibrium, o almighty creator?

[The full study. Photo: Ed Yourdon/ Flickr]