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Your Environment. Your Health.

Why Neighborhoods Matter: Brain Development in Children

Partnerships for Environmental Public Education (PEPH)

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Why Neighborhoods Matter: Brain Development in Children

October 12, 2021

Interviewee: Megan Herting, Ph.D.

In this podcast, Megan Herting, Ph.D., discusses why neighborhoods matter when it comes to brain and cognitive development. She also shares her thoughts on how we can promote neighborhood equity to improve children’s health and development.

Why Neighborhoods Matter: Brain Development in Children

Growing up in certain neighborhoods – particularly those characterized by poverty and unemployment – may be an environmental risk factor for poor brain development. New research shows that children from disadvantaged neighborhoods had declines in cognitive performance, and even brain size, compared to kids from wealthier neighborhoods.

In this podcast, we’ll hear from Megan Herting, Ph.D., who discusses why neighborhoods matter when it comes to brain and cognitive development, and what it may mean for health later in life. She also shares her thoughts on how we can promote neighborhood equity to improve children’s health and development.

Interviewee: Megan Herting, Ph.D.

Megan Herting, Ph.D.

Megan Herting, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine and a member of the NIEHS-funded Southern California Environmental Health Science Center at the University of Southern California. Herting’s research focuses on brain and cognitive development in children, adolescents, and young adults. She uses a mix of behavioral assessments, neuropsychological testing, mental health interviews, and magnetic resonance imaging to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors influence brain and mental health outcomes in children and adolescents.

Herting is part of multiple National Institutes of Health consortium projects assessing how the environment may affect the brain, including the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. She is also a co-chair for the ENIGMA-Environment working group, which is part of an international consortium of experts working together to discover factors that help or harm the brain.

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