How Poverty Changes the Brain

The early results out of a Boston nonprofit are positive.


Published on Apr 19, 2017


A video:

Poverty affects the brain, according to study

A podcast:



Name of the part in the brain Function
processing emotions and triggering emotional responses
prefrontal cortex

2) Read until the paragraph beginning with “Elisabeth Babcock” and mark the following statements as TRUE (T) or FALSE (F) according to the text.

  • Despite continuous fear and stress messages coming from the limbic system, prefrontal cortex can continue to finish tasks efficiently.
  • Social class is an important factor that determines who will have the overload described in the text.
  • The difference between poor people and people that do not experience poverty is that poor people suffer from constant stress.
  • Science tells us that our brain can still focus on many other things even when it is filled with anxiety and fear.
  • Unlike Crittenton Women’s Union, EMPath does not concern itself with improving the economic self-sufficiency of families.
  • EMPath’s aim is to help form intergenerational mobility with brain science.

3) EMPath aims to break the vicious cycles the poor are trapped in by encouraging them to

  • distance themselves from these cycles
  • focus on the problem carefully
  • feel good about themselves
  • use medication regularly

4) What causes a change in people’s brains?

5) Poor children are not bound to suffer due to the effects of the situation of their brains because ……….

6) What is the goal of the Intergenerational Mobility Project?

7) Intergen mentors want to work less with the families/be no longer necessary for the families/increase their work for the families by encouraging adults to become mentors for themselves and their children.

8) The main lesson to be learned from Ginnelle’s story is that when we encounter ………., we should ……….

9) What conclusion can be drawn concerning EMPath’s work with families?

10) Babcock attributes EMPath’s outstanding success to their focus on ……

11) The main reason behind the success of EMPath is ……….

12) Apart from promoting togetherness, how does family goal-setting help her children according to Ginnelle?

Writing Task:

How Poverty Changes Your Brain:

How Poverty Affects Your Brain:

Watch the videos above and write a problem-solution essay taking the main points of the article that you have read into account. What problems does poverty give rise to? And how can those problems be overcome?

You can also write a cause and effect essay based on the materials you have read and watched.

Answers for the reading questions:

1) limbic system – handling problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution.

2) F, F, T, F, F, T

3) distance themselves from these cycles

4) exposure to the constant stresses and dangers of poverty

5) the sections of the brain affected by poverty can be strengthened and improved well into adulthood.

6) To frame how adults and children think about their individual and collective lives.

7) no longer necessary for the families

8) an overwhelming task – break it down into more approachable steps on our own.

9) EMPath’s impact, historically, has been striking.

10) trying to get families to a place where they can sustain themselves and their families.

11) a reliance on science

12) It empowers her children to understand that they can make a change.


YADYOK Assistant

Kaan Gökçe