Though a significant amount of research on the association of poverty with unfavorable cognitive outcomes is available, the studies are limited only to individual household socioeconomic statuses (SES). Some recent studies have suggested that neighborhood poverty could also account for a cognitive impact. This study aims to evaluate the association between neighborhood poverty and unfavorable cognitive outcomes and hippocampal brain structure.

This cross-sectional study included a total of 11,875 children aged 9-10 years with neighborhood poverty and household SES as the associated factors. The primary outcomes of the study were cognitive disability and prefrontal and hippocampal brain structure.

The findings suggested that greater neighborhood poverty was associated with lower cognitive ability as assessed by lower scores across all cognitive domains. Besides, it was also correlated with decreased brain volume in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and right hippocampus. The findings also suggested that greater household income was associated with higher cognitive domain scores and larger prefrontal and hippocampal brain region volumes. Cognitive disabilities associated with neighborhood poverty included oral reading, episodic memory, and working memory.

The research concluded that neighborhood poverty was associated with lower cognitive abilities and brain volumes.