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

Farah, Martha
University of Pennsylvania, USA

Martha J. Farah is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Center for Neuroscience & Society. Her recent research has focused on the effects of early socioeconomic deprivation on brain development. Her interests also include the role of neuroscience in society, including the way neuroscience is changing how we think of ourselves as physical, mental and moral beings. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a former Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of honors including the National Academy of Science’s Troland Research Award and the Association for Psychological Science’s lifetime achievement award.


Neuroscience and poverty policy: Is there there there?
Socioeconomic inequality is strongly associated with differences in mental health, cognitive ability, educational attainment and occupational success -- all directly or indirectly functions of the brain, and all important targets of social policy. Thus, by offering a potentially new understanding of SES and human development, this field can in principle help shape more effective social policy. While some scientists, child advocates and policymakers argue that contemporary neuroscience can now guide changes in social policy and will soon suggest specific new interventions to improve developmental outcomes for low SES children and youth, others have voiced skepticism. I will briefly summarize the relevant science and review its potential for actionable policy implications.