Research suggests math-savvy people may be better at automating arithmetic
SAN FRANCISCO — When faced with simple math problems, people who get jittery about the subject may rely more heavily on certain brain circuitry than math-savvy people do. The different mental approach could help explain why people with math anxiety struggle on more complicated problems, researchers reported March 25 at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting.
While in fMRI machines, adults with and without math anxiety evaluated whether simple arithmetic problems, such as 9+2=11, were correct or incorrect. Both groups had similar response times and accuracy on the problems, but brain scans turned up differences.
Specifically, in people who weren’t anxious about math, lower activation of the frontoparietal attention network was linked to better performance. That brain network is involved in working memory and problem solving. Math-anxious