(Memphis) It may just be a three-pound gray organ in our heads, but the brain drives every function of our life.
Believe it or not, what happens to the brain in infancy can determined whether a person falls into a life of crime.
Memphis has the worst health disparities in the country, meaning there are far more differences in health outcomes among different cultural groups.
That’s according to Dr. Paul Juarez with the University of TN Health Science Center.
“A lot of it has to do with the social determinant. The high rate of poverty, the history, the culture here in Memphis,” said Juarez.
That could mean lack of access to healthcare, education, grocery stores with healthy food nearby, and even a lack of being able to get outside and exercise because of high crime.
Dr. Juarez was brought to Memphis a year ago to figure out a connection between a baby’s mental development and crime.
“Exposure to high levels of stress can impact what we call the executive function and the development of the brain which guides and develops the brain,” said Juarez.
He says those stresses could include fighting between parents, a lack of attention from parents, and growing up in poverty.
Memphis has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nations, and according to the Urban Child Institute studies show a child born into poverty in Memphis is less likely to get out of it than any other city in the nation.
Dr. Juarez says the effects this stress can be reversed as a child grows by engaging them in social programs and educational activities like reading.