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NeuroethicsDefining the issues in theory, practice, and policy$
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Judy Illes

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567219

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567219.001.0001

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Poverty, privilege, and brain development: empirical findings and ethical implications

Poverty, privilege, and brain development: empirical findings and ethical implications

Chapter:
(p.277) Chapter 19 Poverty, privilege, and brain development: empirical findings and ethical implications
Source:
Neuroethics
Author(s):

Martha J. Farah

Kimberly G. Noble

Hallam Hurt

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567219.003.0019

This chapter attempts to relate findings on socio-economic status (SES) and brain development. The ultimate goals are to inform practical decisions concerning child policy, and to reveal the neuroethical dimensions of the problem of childhood poverty. It shows that who we are is determined not only by genetically programmed development, neurodegenerative disease, and psychoactive drugs, but also by the socio-economic circumstances of our childhood in equivalently physical mechanistic ways. Neuroethicists have rightly called attention to the ethically complex ability of drugs to change who we are. It is metaphysically just as perplexing, and socially at least as distressing, that an impoverished and stressful childhood can diminish us by equally concrete physical mechanisms, such as the impact of early life stress on medial temporal memory ability through neuroendocrine mechanisms.

Keywords:   socio-economic status, child development, brain development, neuroscience, memory, language

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