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University of California-Irvine has been awarded a $7.8 million federal grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development to explore the link between family income and early brain development.

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The five-year research project will be based on studies documenting that brain development in children from low-income households differs from brain development in children from higher-income households,

“This is the first rigorous examination of how family income affects young children’s language, memory, executive function and socio-emotional processing—and the corresponding differences in neural structure and function in the brain regions that support these skills,” said Greg Duncan, UCI distinguished professor of education and co-principal investigator of the study, in a release.

“Poverty is especially likely to shape infants’ and toddlers’ development because of the high plasticity and growth of the brain during the first three years of life.”