Keren Lev Humanities and Social Science
We propose to conduct research exploring potential cognitive adaptations in children who come from less wealthy and/or educated homes (low socioeconomic status, SES). Previous research indicates that lower-SES environments expose children to stressors including neighborhood crime and loud, crowded home environments. Such stress has been associated with academic struggles and poor health. We explore whether children coming from low SES households may, in fact, have particular strengths; specifically, adaptive auditory abilities allowing them to learn from multiple stimuli at once. In the study, we will have both low- and high-SES children listen to two stories simultaneously; we will measure their attention to both stories by testing their explicit and implicit memory in relation to the stories. As an indicator of attention, we measure pupillary dilation in response to unexpected sounds embedded within the stories. We hypothesize lower-SES children will have better recollection of the content in both stories in comparison to their high-SES peers.