Middle school science adventures
Springing forward
Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
Salamanders and Newts
Roach Love Songs
Monkeys Count
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Brain cells take a break
The Science Fair Circuit
Memory by Hypnosis
Birds We Eat
Chemistry and Materials
Pencil Thin
The hottest soup in New York
Smelly Traps for Lampreys
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
Music of the Future
Small but WISE
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Rainforest Trapped in Amber
Meet your mysterious relative
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Shrinking Glaciers
Killer Space Rock Snuffed Out Ancient Life
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Little Bits of Trouble
To Catch a Dragonfly
Power of the Wind
Finding the Past
Untangling Human Origins
Preserving Ancient Warrior Paint
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
Saltwater Fish
Freshwater Fish
Food and Nutrition
Strong Bones for Life
Chew for Health
Building a Food Pyramid
GSAT English Rules
Order of Adjectives
Who vs. That vs. Which
Adjectives and Adverbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Scholarship
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
Losing with Heads or Tails
Math is a real brain bender
It's a Math World for Animals
Human Body
A Fix for Injured Knees
Nature's Medicines
Cell Phone Tattlers
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
How children learn
Gaining a Swift Lift
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Dreams of Floating in Space
Sweet, Sticky Science
Stalking Plants by Scent
Nature's Alphabet
Space and Astronomy
Melting Snow on Mars
A Dead Star's Dusty Ring
Killers from Outer Space
Technology and Engineering
Sugar Power for Cell Phones
Riding Sunlight
Algae Motors
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Noun
Robots on a Rocky Road
Where rivers run uphill
Charged cars that would charge
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Where rivers run uphill
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Add your Article

Math is a real brain bender

Don’t feel bad if it took forever to wrap your brain around math. Mastering arithmetic requires major reorganization in the way the brain works. As kids grow up, the parts of the brain used to do math problems change. In elementary school kids, a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex lights up while doing arithmetic. But by the time kids become adults, that region takes a backseat when crunching numbers, and another part of the brain, called the left superior temporal gyrus, kicks in. A nearby region called the parietal cortex also plays a bigger role in adults’ calculations. Scientists have shown that the left superior temporal gyrus may help connect the sounds of speech to written letters. The region may also get in gear when you play an instrument, helping you link the sound of your clarinet solo to the notes written on sheet music. It’s possible that this part of the brain helps adults tie the symbols for numbers to precise amounts, says Daniel Ansari, of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Ansari and his colleagues conducted the study that uncovered the shift in brain regions used for math. To understand how the brain tackles math at different ages, Ansari’s team matched 19 children, ages 6 to 9, with 19 adults, ages 18 to 24. The researchers showed both groups pairs of written numbers from one to 10, and then asked the kids and adults to say which number was bigger. Next, the people were shown pairs of images — each one with a group of one to 10 squares. The volunteers were asked to say which image in the pair had more squares. During the experiment, the scientists took pictures of the participants’ brains using a functional MRI scanner. This machine measures blood flow, which offers clues about the activity of certain regions of the participants’ brains during each task. Adults performed the tasks better than children, but it took everyone longer to choose the bigger amount when the difference between the numbers was smaller. (For instance, deciding if two squares is more than three squares was harder than comparing one square and nine squares.) The scientists found that as the numbers got closer together, the parietal cortex got more active in adults, but didn’t rev up in kids’ brains. “Our results demonstrate that the brain basis of number processing changes as a function of development and experience,” Ansari says. The findings suggest that people’s ability to link symbols with precise quantities builds on an older system used to gauge rough amounts. Animals like monkeys use this older number sense, for instance, to estimate the better deal when choosing between handfuls of sunflower seeds. After many years of math problems, however, people’s parietal cortex takes over from the older system, jumpstarting translation of approximate amounts into symbolic, precise numerals. And after even more practice, the left superior temporal gyrus takes over major math tasks, Ansari suspects.

Math is a real brain bender
Math is a real brain bender

Designed and Powered by™