Helping With the Pain of Math Anxiety

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By Christina Sevilla; Center Director and Owner of LearningRx- Denver and Centennial
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Have you ever had a child come down with a sudden "stomach ache" on the day of a big math test? Although we often brush off these events as mere excuses, a new study has shown that anxiety brought about by math can actually trigger physical pain.

The study published on MedicalNewsToday.com (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252363.php) was conducted by the University of Chicago on adults that suffered specifically from math related anxieties. Then the subjects’ brain waves were monitored and areas that are connected to pain showed increased activity. 

“Ian Lyons and his team of researchers discovered that in people who experience high levels of anxiety when anticipating math tasks, encountering math increases activity in regions of the brain connected with the feeling of physical pain. The more elevated a person's math anxiety, the greater the appearance of neural activity is.”

Thankfully, there is a way to alleviate math struggles and math anxiety through cognitive skills training. Many math struggles are caused by underlying struggles in memory, processing speed and logic and reasoning skills.

Think back to those timed times-table quizzes—such assessments are not only looking at someone’s ability to know their times-tables but also how quickly the problem can be processed and the memory of the answer recalled. Most of what is being tested is not actual math ability but other cognitive skills.

Brain training programs can make a huge impact on math abilities by making processing speed faster and memory stronger. If memory is weak, no matter how often someone tries to learn their times-tables, and no matter how often the drills are repeated, it will be very difficult for the skill to be mastered without first improving the memory skill that should keep the information available in the brain.

So if you, or your child, often come down with a painful ache tied to math anxiety, there is a solution. Check out www.learningrx.com for more information about cognitive skill training or give me a call at 303-284-6105 so I can help answer any questions!