In the sociological literature on poverty, there are ample studies and papers about the ways that being poor impact the brain. Stress, malnutrition and exposure to the kinds of environmental contaminants that often accompany lower-income neighbourhoods (Flint’s lack of clean water or the poor air quality in schools around highways) can have serious neurological impacts on people living on the economic margins.

Less studied, however, is the impact that poverty — seeing it, knowing about it, thinking about it — has on the brains of people who are not poor.

This is also an important area of study, though, particularly as cities and states attempt to manoeuvre unprecedented wealth inequality and homelessness. Perceptions of poverty (and, as a result, perceptions of scarcity) have substantial impacts on the way we collectively think, act, vote and legislate.

And often, we don’t bother to examine them.