The Atlantic

A Poor Childhood Could Hurt Your Memory in Old Age

People raised in low-income families have worse cognitive functioning after age 50, suggesting that mental decline is a process that starts in childhood.
Source: Andy Lyons / Getty

In 2004, a study titled “The Long Arm of Childhood” found that whether children were rich or poor could influence their health in adulthood. Now a new paper out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that childhood has an even longer arm, reaching well into old age. Someone’s economic status as a child, this study suggests, could influence his or her memory and brain health after age 50.

The study’s authors looked at a database of 24,066 people over 50 whose cognitive functioning had been measured every two years from

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min readSociety
When Abuse Victims Commit Crimes
New laws in New York and elsewhere could keep women out of prison for crimes against their abusers.
The Atlantic5 min read
The Complicated Cliché of ‘Bran the Broken’
Game of Thrones, which always commented on the social effects of disability, ended by selling its final twist as inspirational.
The Atlantic5 min readPsychology
End the Plague of Secret Parenting
If mothers and fathers speak openly about child-care obligations, their colleagues will adapt.