Critical Thresholds: how having too much, or too little, affects the mind, brain, and behavior
Socioeconomic status (SES) predicts many important life outcomes, from physical and mental health to academic achievement and cognitive ability. Why is SES so influential? Part of the answer lies in the relationship between SES and the brain. I will present research from my lab and others aimed at characterizing SES differences in brain structure and function. I will then discuss the causes of these associations – by what mechanisms are they linked? – and their consequences – what roles do they play in the health and achievement disparities mentioned earlier? Finally, I will consider whether and how the neuroscience of SES can help shape policies concerning children of low SES.
A person’s knowledge is limited in many ways, but people often overestimate what they know. The profound limitations on knowledge, including being oblivious to what information is missing, will be illustrated with respect to my program of research on the limitation of working memory capacity to just a few independent, coherent thoughts at once and on working-memory development in childhood. I will also briefly describe how this research has contributed to a broader philosophical attitude suggesting that we could improve both our scientific work and our interpersonal relationships by trying to remain aware of our limitations.