Poor people have weaker and slower brains than those from posher areas, according to a study.
Boffins at the University of Glasgow questioned men from all over the city before scanning their brains.
They discovered that the part of the brain used for problem solving and language was significantly smaller in men from the most deprived areas.
The scan produced state-of-the-art brain images which also showed it took longer for messages to travel from one part of the brain to another in blokes from poor areas, compared to more affluent men.
Lead author Dr Rajeev Krishnadas said: “These modules [parts of the brain] characterise the basic architecture of the brain that make it an efficient information processing system.
“The fact that people from the more deprived neighbourhoods had weaker modules, suggests that their information processing systems may be less efficient.
“These findings provide preliminary evidence for the neuroscientific basis of the relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and poor cognitive and mental health.”
The study of men from all over Glasgow was carried out by researchers from the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
Their findings are part of a huge study called Psychological, Social and Biological Determinants of Ill Health which aims to look at the ways psychology, behaviour and biology can affect health.
The study has been presented in academic journals, Psychosomatic Medicine and Frontiers of Human Neuroscience.
The survey involved 21 men from the most deprived areas of Glasgow, and 21 from the most affluent.
They had their brains scanned between 2005 and 2007, as part of a massive study of more than 600 people, but the results were only compiled this year.
The scientists measured deprivation according to the Scottish Indices of Deprivation which gives each postcode a score of affluence, depending on factors such as income, education, employment and training in the area.
Each man was given an MRI scan which measured the thickness of the brain and the surface area of the brain, to create a super-detailed picture.
Lead author Dr Rajeev Krishnadas said the most efficient brains have more connections within each separate department of the brain – called modules.
He said: “What we found was that the modules in the most deprived people are not as strongly connected as the modules from the least deprived people.
“It could be inferred that this means that information is not processed as quickly.”
But he warned against drawing the conclusion that poverty causes a weaker brain.
“This is just a snap shot in time and we can not attribute causality until we follow up and do more studies,” he added.