Twelfth International Summer School on Mind, Brain and Education

2017 September 1–7

Neuroscience of poverty

Director of the School: Antonio M. Battro
Director of the Course: Sebastián J. Lipina
Codirectors of the Course: Eric Pakulak, María Soledad Segretin
Management Assistance of the Course: Matías Lopez-Rosenfeld
Program Officer of the School: Lula Majdalani

Alejandra Carboni
Universidad de la República, Uruguay

Alejandra Carboni is an Associate Professor in Cognitive Psychology and Director of the Center for Basic Research in Psychology, CIBPSI, UdelaR, Uruguay. She has a degree in Psychology (UdelaR) and a PhD in Neuroscience (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). Her research is focused on Cognitive Psychology, with the purpose of understanding attention mechanisms and its neural basis, as well as contribute to the understanding of the relation between executive control processes and cognitive development in early childhood.


Neurodevelopment and poverty in early childhood: intervention strategies to promote equality in cognitive and emotional development.
Neurodevelopment in early childhood is affected by socioeconomic status (SES). Biological and psychosocial risk factors associated with low SES backgrounds lead to a transgenerational reproduction of inequalities in physical development, educational performance, social inclusion and employment opportunities, among others. Twenty percent of children in Uruguay grow up in poverty. Despite overwhelming evidence that links low SES to poor academic achievement, the developmental trajectories of preschoolers that develop in impoverished contexts have not been quantitatively evaluated in our country. Our work explores two different approaches for cognitive assessment and cognitive stimulation in early childhood: one based on digital games running on tablets of the Plan CEIBAL (*), and the other mediated by teacher rating scales and alternative organization (workshops, integrated ages and optional activities) of the Early Childhood Education Centers. The results of the first study show that SES has a deep impact on executive functions (EFs), and that game intervention improves inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility. In the second study, we observed how the modification of the educational context favors the development of self-regulation and control, and promotes social play. Both studies suggest that EFs are modulated by context and that appropriate intervention programs can modify cognitive developmental trajectories. (*) Uruguay's national OLPC project