Poverty shrinks brains from birth

The stress of growing up poor can hurt a child’s brain development starting before birth, research suggests — and even very small differences in income can have major effects on the brain.

Researchers have long suspected that children’s behaviour and cognitive abilities are linked to their socioeconomic status, particularly for those who are very poor. The reasons have never been clear, although stressful home environments, poor nutrition, exposure to industrial chemicals such as lead and lack of access to good education are often cited as possible factors.

In the largest study of its kind, published on 30 March in Nature Neuroscience1, a team led by neuroscientists Kimberly Noble from Columbia University in New York City and Elizabeth Sowell from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, California, looked into the biological underpinnings of these effects. They imaged the brains of 1,099 children, adolescents and young adults in several US cities. Because people with lower incomes in the United States are more likely to be from minority ethnic groups, the team mapped each child’s genetic ancestry and then adjusted the calculations so that the effects of poverty would not be skewed by the small differences in brain structure between ethnic groups.

The brains of children from the lowest income bracket — less than US$25,000 — had up to 6% less surface area than did those of children from families making more than US$150,000, the researchers found. In children from the poorest families, income disparities of a few thousand dollars were associated with major differences in brain structure, particularly in areas associated with language and decision-making skills. Children’s scores on tests measuring cognitive skills, such as reading and memory ability, also declined with parental income.

A new study finds that children’s cognitive skills are linked to family income. Ian Spanier/Cultura RM/Getty Images


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Physicists Shed Light on Strange Medical Condition

Physicists from Israel have shed light on the intricate dynamics underpinning a mysterious tongue condition that has been puzzling the medical community for decades.

Known as geographic tongue (GT), the condition affects around 2 percent of the population and is characterized by evolving red patches on the surface of the tongue that — as the name suggests — can have a map-like resemblance.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2015/04/physicists-shed-light-strange-medical-condition

I think stuff like political labels, groups, affiliations, etc, all slide around and change a lot for some people, but the core human rarely seems to actually change. By ‘core human,” I mean the actual values, the root beliefs, and the most basic priorities they hold, which all else simply springs from.

What I hold dear, what I believe in and value on the most basic levels, and so on, hasn’t changed much since I became an adult. The politics that I felt I aligned with due to these beliefs and priorities, the people I associate(d) with, and the like, have definitely changed, but the more essential underpinnings that brought me to those areas- and then later removed me from those areas- have not.


Here’s Good Guy Kops back again with another stellar corset- this time with the exceedingly iconic straight-front corset. This is what made those crazy S-Bend silhouettes that reached their height in about 1905.

Be sure to read the patent pages BEFORE TRYING TO MAKE THE CORSET. Things registered to the patent office are not always what they seem- they generally have an odd quirk of some kind that you may be ok with or that you may feel you need to work around. So, please read carefully when it comes to these corsets! :) Hand-snagged for your pleasure from Google’s digital US patent archives. Please mind the page order, as sometimes Tumblr likes shifting them about!


It’s FRIDAY FASHION FACT time! Arguably the most iconic piece of historic dress is the corset. It was a staple of women’s fashion for centuries, and even today the corset has yet to fade from fashion completely. There is a a lot of myth surrounding the corset, as well as controversy over its practicality and safety. So where did such a legendary garment get its start?

To be perfectly honest, no one knows for sure exactly where the corset originates from. There is evidence of stiff, corset-like bodice pieces dating as far back as 2000 BCE worn by the Cretan women. There is also evidence from several other cultures throughout the ancient world of women binding their waists in various ways. However, there is such a strong disconnect between these cultures and early modern Europe, that it is unlikely that they were any sort of predecessor to the modern, western corset.

The invention of the “modern” corset is often attributed to Catherine de’ Medici, an Italian noblewoman who married King Henry II of France in the 16th Century. The legend is that she hated thick waists, and so required all the ladies at court to constrict their bodices with an iron cage-like corset, aiming for a miniscule 13 inch waist herself. Most modern historians agree that this story has been vastly dramatized. While metal corsets did exist at the time, it is generally agreed that they were used for orthopedic purposes, just as today corset-like pieces may be used to treat scoliosis. The majority of surviving metal corsets are in fact reproductions made centuries later, often by fetishists. The word “corset” can be found as early as the 13th Century, but as this time it was used to describe the torso of any garment, from gowns to armor.

As the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, clothing became increasingly tailored, cinched by lacing. As outerwear became more close-fitting, naturally, undergarments did as well. Soon a tight laced bodice piece known as a basquine (aka vasquine) was developed in Spain, quickly spreading throughout Europe. The fashion of a tight, flattened bodice gave a smoothness that helped to display fine fabrics, a sign of wealth. By the mid-16th Century, Italian aristocratic women began to stiffen their bodices with a piece of whalebone in the front, known as a busk. Catherine de’ Medici quickly adopted the style. While she did not invent the look, she certainly popularized it. Soon whalebone was added to the sides of under-bodices for more stiffness, in garments known as bodies, while the outer bodice continued to be stiffened with a busk. Corsets simply progressed from there.

 Early corsets were known as stays, and were perfectly straight, stiffened all around, with no curve for waists or busts. These went out of style in the 1790s, after the French Revolution, when the neoclassical look was popularized. By the early 19th Century, though, stiff bodice undergarments began to be reintroduced, this time curved to shape a woman’s body, as opposed to just flatten it. It is at this point that they came to be known as corsets. The materials and shapes of corsets morphed with the fashions, leaving us with the wide variety of styles we know today!

Want to learn more about corsets? Check out these books:

The Corset: A Cultural History, by Valerie Steele

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh

Have a question about fashion history you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!