Refleksi :   Penemuan dari penyelidikan yang  secara ringkas diberitakan dalam 
artikel dibawah  ini  memberitahu akibat kemiskinan terhadap turun temurun. 
Jadi  bila dilihat pada NKRI  yang  menciptakan mayoritas rakyat miskin melarat 
maka tentu konsekwensinya ialah generasi turun-temurunnya bukan saja tidak 
cerah tetapi  penuh kegagalan hidup, tetap miskin menjadi obyek eksplotasi  
kaum elit kleptokratik nan berkuasa. 

Hendaklah diingat bahwa tidak ada hari ini tanpa hari kemarin dan besok tanpa 
hari ini. Kalau hari kemarin tidak diciptakan kondisi perbaikan untuk hari 
sekarang, maka situasi kehidupan mendatang pun tak banyak bedanya dari 
sekarang. Generasi mendatang akan penuh kegagalan dan keparahan hidup.

Neuroscience and social deprivation

I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told
Apr 2nd 2009
>From The Economist print edition

How poverty passes from generation to generation is now becoming clearer. The 
answer lies in the effect of stress on two particular parts of the brain

THAT the children of the poor underachieve in later life, and thus remain poor 
themselves, is one of the enduring problems of society. Sociologists have 
studied and described it. Socialists have tried to abolish it by dictatorship 
and central planning. Liberals have preferred democracy and opportunity. But 
nobody has truly understood what causes it. Until, perhaps, now.

The crucial breakthrough was made three years ago, when Martha Farah of the 
University of Pennsylvania showed that the working memories of children who 
have been raised in poverty have smaller capacities than those of middle-class 
children. Working memory is the ability to hold bits of information in the 
brain for current use-the digits of a phone number, for example. It is crucial 
for comprehending languages, for reading and for solving problems. Entry into 
the working memory is also a prerequisite for something to be learnt 
permanently as part of declarative memory-the stuff a person knows explicitly, 
like the dates of famous battles, rather than what he knows implicitly, like 
how to ride a bicycle.

Since Dr Farah's discovery, Gary Evans and Michelle Schamberg of Cornell 
University have studied the phenomenon in more detail. As they report in this 
week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they have found that 
the reduced capacity of the memories of the poor is almost certainly the result 
of stress affecting the way that childish brains develop.

Dr Evans's and Dr Schamberg's volunteers were 195 participants in a long-term 
sociological and medical study that Dr Evans is carrying out in New York state. 
At the time, the participants were 17 years old. All are white, and the numbers 
of men and women are about equal.

Stress in the city
To measure the amount of stress an individual had suffered over the course of 
his life, the two researchers used an index known as allostatic load. This is a 
combination of the values of six variables: diastolic and systolic blood 
pressure; the concentrations of three stress-related hormones; and the 
body-mass index, a measure of obesity. For all six, a higher value indicates a 
more stressful life; and for all six, the values were higher, on average, in 
poor children than in those who were middle class. Moreover, because Dr Evans's 
wider study had followed the participants from birth, the two researchers were 
able to estimate what proportion of each child's life had been spent in 
poverty. That more precise figure, too, was correlated with the allostatic load.

The capacity of a 17-year-old's working memory was also correlated with 
allostatic load. Those who had spent their whole lives in poverty could hold an 
average of 8.5 items in their memory at any time. Those brought up in a 
middle-class family could manage 9.4, and those whose economic and social 
experiences had been mixed were in the middle.

These two correlations do not by themselves prove that chronic stress damages 
the memory, but Dr Evans and Dr Schamberg then applied a statistical technique 
called hierarchical regression to the results. They were able to use this to 
remove the effect of allostatic load on the relationship between poverty and 
memory discovered originally by Dr Farah. When they did so, that relationship 
disappeared. In other words, the diminution of memory in the poorer members of 
their study was entirely explained by stress, rather than by any more general 
aspect of poverty.

To confirm this result, the researchers also looked at characteristics such as 
each participant's birthweight, his mother's age when she gave birth, the 
mother's level of education and her marital status, all of which differ, on 
average, between the poor and the middle classes. None of these characteristics 
had any effect. Nor did a mother's own stress levels.

That stress, and stress alone, is responsible for damaging the working memories 
of poor children thus looks like a strong hypothesis. It is also backed up by 
work done on both people and laboratory animals, which shows that stress 
changes the activity of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that carry signals 
from one nerve cell to another in the brain. Stress also suppresses the 
generation of new nerve cells in the brain, and causes the "remodelling" of 
existing ones. Most significantly of all, it shrinks the volume of the 
prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. These are the parts of the brain most 
closely associated with working memory.

Children with stressed lives, then, find it harder to learn. Put pejoratively, 
they are stupider. It is not surprising that they do less well at school, end 
up poor as adults and often visit the same circumstances on their own children.

Dr Evans's and Dr Schamberg's study does not examine the nature of the stress 
that the children of the poor are exposed to, but it is now well established 
that poor adults live stressful lives, and not just for the obvious reason that 
poverty brings uncertainty about the future. The main reason poor people are 
stressed is that they are at the bottom of the social heap as well as the 
financial one. 

Sir Michael Marmot, of University College London, and his intellectual 
successors have shown repeatedly that people at the bottom of social 
hierarchies experience much more stress in their daily lives than those at the 
top-and suffer the consequences in their health. Even quite young children are 
socially sensitive beings and aware of such things. 

So, it may not be necessary to look any further than their place in the pecking 
order to explain what Dr Evans and Dr Schamberg have discovered in their 
research into the children of the poor. The Bible says, "the poor you will 
always have with you." Dr Evans and Dr Schamberg may have provided an important 
part of the explanation why.


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