Psychiatry Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



Abstract for lecture

Poverty is a major risk factor for mental disorders. Neuroimaging studies show path are breaking findings to explain why ppeople living in poverty suffer from improper development and maturation of brain due to neuronal loss. It sets in much before the child is born and leads to increased vulnerability for mental disorders.

Recent findings show that changes in brain structure and function due to lack of brain maturation is directly related to poverty. A number of these changes are end result of neuronal survival in the most fundamental neuronal matrix. These findings along with other biological correlates offer strong argument for poverty being a serious risk factor. Studies of brain imaging in poor and impoverished communities show low total volumes of grey and white matter, difference in the brain growth which varies with socio - economic status and a slower brain growth children.

Volumetric differences in the brain were associated with emergence of disruptive behavioral problem. At the same time it has been hypothesised that due to the plasticity of neuronal pathways some of the effects of poverty on brain may be reversible. The prefrontal cortex and system of executive function are the most likely candidates for mediating the neurocognitive system .Because the prefrontal cortex is highly plastic and it undergoes a long period of post natal development . Both absolute and relative poverty lead to detrimental condition which continues to exist even in the richest countries mental disorders lead to adverse social and economic. These findings represent a ‘causal –and –consequential’ argument for mental disorder among people living in poverty and make a strong case for a ‘shifting paradigm’ in understanding psychopathology where environmental and social factors most certainly lead to neurobiological changes.

Future research may elucidate a clear pathway of mental disorder related to poverty