Brains of Kids With Math Anxiety Function Differently, Says Study
Mar 23, 2012
Kids who get the jitters before a math test may actually have different brain functions than kids without math anxiety, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine recruited about 50 second and third graders and separated them into either a high-math anxiety group or a low-anxiety group based on a standard questionnaire they modified for 7- to 9-year-olds. They scanned the children’s brains while the kids did addition and subtraction problems.
They found that children with a high level of math anxiety were slower at solving problems and were less accurate than children with lower math anxiety.
“Children who said they had math anxiety had greater responses in the areas of the brain implicated in processing negative emotions like fear, particularly the amygdala,” said Vinod Menon, a co-author and professor of child psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience at Stanford. “We also saw reduced activity in areas normally associated with mathematical problem solving.”...
“Math anxiety is underappreciated in young children, but it is very real and very stimulus-specific,” Menon said. “These children do not have high levels of general anxiety.”
...The findings, the authors said, could eventually be used to develop ways to address this specific type of anxiety, which “has significant implications for an individual’s long-term academic and professional success,” they wrote.
Anxiety Makes Brain Poor At Maths For Some Children
Medical News Today
23 Mar 2012
A study from the Stanford University School of Medicine is published this week in Psychological Science showing that children who experience difficulty with math exhibit an altered brain function from anxiety.
When it comes to equations and formulas, all you have to fear is fear itself it seems, with second and third grade students showing brain activity associated with panicky or frightened feelings, decreasing activity in the part of the brain that handles math...
Menon says that's its also possible for someone who is considered good at maths to have a bad day and feel the anxiety that blocks his or her skills...
The two groups of good math and bad math / anxious students showed differences in performance: Children with high math anxiety were less accurate and significantly slower at solving math problems than children with low math anxiety. These results indicate that math anxiety, basically math-specific fear, jams the brain's information-processing capacity along with the ability to reason through a math problem. Perhaps the process of being fearful, by way of the animal type survival mechanism it originates from, has evolved the brain to be spontaneous and intuitive rather than logical and mathematical in frightening situations...