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A study by Columbia University recorded better brain development in children of low-income families that received monthly cheques. The team surveyed one-year-old infants and realized that the children had better thinking and learning skills from their parents receiving financial support.

According to a professor of education and neuroscience at Colombia University, Kimberly Noble, many researchers accept that growing up in low-income families increases the risk of children having poor health, low earnings, and lower academic performance.

Moreover, other studies have shown that poverty limits brain development in children. However, Noble points out that scientists have still been unclear on if the slower brain development is a direct result of poverty or factors that are closely linked to poverty.

How researchers conducted the study

The team gathered 435 infants aged one year. The Baby’s First Years study aimed to investigate how poverty reduction can affect the development of an infant. Researchers gave their mothers either $20 or $333 monthly.

Furthermore, there was no limit on the amount parents could spend on their children. The team also stated that they would continue to support the mothers until their children were four years and four months.

The team used electroencephalography (EEG) to evaluate the child’s brain activity. They assessed the speed of brain waves as past studies have shown fast brain waves indicate that learning and thinking are developing.

The extra money could change the children’s surroundings 

Researchers reported more brain activity in mothers whose children got $333. They speculated that this difference was caused by the child’s ability to adapt to their situations.

Noble explains that the individual’s experiences and surroundings shape brains. This study shows that the $333 every month altered the experiences and surroundings of the children more than the $20.

The team still doesn’t know if these changes will be sustained with time. They also note that more studies are necessary to determine the exact cause of brain changes. Such studies would look into how the extra money changes family stress, family relationships, and parenting behaviors. It could also look into how the mothers used the money.

The team believes this study could enable legislators to decide better on child tax credits and other poverty laws.