Brain reorganizes to make room for math

Between childhood and adulthood, neural map of the brain rearranges to conceptualize arithmetic

4:35pm, November 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — It takes years for children to master the ins and outs of arithmetic. New research indicates that this learning process triggers a large-scale reorganization of brain processes involved in understanding written symbols for various quantities.

The findings support the idea that humans' ability to match specific quantities with number symbols, a skill required for doing arithmetic, builds on a brain system that is used for estimating approximate quantities. That brain system is seen in many nonhuman animals.

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