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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 21;106(16):6545-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811910106. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

Childhood poverty, chronic stress, and adult working memory.

Author information

1
Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401, USA. gwe1@cornell.edu

Abstract

The income-achievement gap is a formidable societal problem, but little is known about either neurocognitive or biological mechanisms that might account for income-related deficits in academic achievement. We show that childhood poverty is inversely related to working memory in young adults. Furthermore, this prospective relationship is mediated by elevated chronic stress during childhood. Chronic stress is measured by allostatic load, a biological marker of cumulative wear and tear on the body that is caused by the mobilization of multiple physiological systems in response to chronic environmental demands.

PMID:
19332779
PMCID:
PMC2662958
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0811910106
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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