Researcher: Math anxiety changes children's brains | March 30, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 30, 2012

Researcher: Math anxiety changes children's brains

Second- and third-graders underwent brain scans while doing addition, subtraction problems

by Chris Kenrick

Brains function differently in children who have math anxiety than those who don't, Stanford University researchers have discovered.

This story contains 526 words.

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Posted by Doug, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm

When a person is scared, they loose fine motor skills and the ability to do complex tasks. Math anxiety is just a more subtle form of this condition.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 27, 2012 at 2:26 am

Looking for math anxiety, scan the brain of someone manually filling out a 1040.

ps to staff, check amygdale (sic) spelling, unless rocks for brains was intentional.

Posted by Tom H, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2012 at 6:28 am

The article does not support the headline "Researcher: Math anxiety changes children's brains". The headline implies that math anxiety is the cause of the elevated activity in the amigdala, but there is nothing in the article that addresses which is the cause and which is the effect, only that they are correlated.

Posted by Ronnie, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

That is pretty interesting. As an adult with a 3rd grade kid, I am honestly starting to feel the same sense of anxiety and frustration trying to help with his homework! I am definitely afraid that its rubbing off.
Of course, I love the focus we have on literacy here in PA - I think the kids are great readers. But, I want to see that same focus on building really great math literacy. It seems to come natural for some kids, but for others it does, like this study suggests, provoke a great deal of anxiety. I just think those kids might need to get a firmer footing earlier.
I'm no teacher - just an observation, but I am getting serious math flashbacks to grade school !

Posted by cautious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

This research begs a couple of other questions:

are there reading and writing anxieties? i'd bet the answer is yes.

which comes first the anxiety problem and is it present for public speaking, etc. or does the subject's inability with math come first then causing the anxiety?

Posted by Interesting, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

So this means that the time test on addition, substraction, and division, are causing anxiety in our kids? Interesting, then how come PAUSD keeps this practice. What is the point of doing it? They could do it, but without the timer.

Posted by cautious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

timed testing is required by the state - at least that is what we were told by 5th grade teacher

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