Children who experience high levels of anxiety when presented with math problems have different brain functions than their calmer peers.
Researchers at the Stanford University found that children with a high level of math anxiety were slower and less able to solve problems. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans revealedÂ that the children with math anxiety also had decreased activity in several brain regions associated with working memory and numerical reasoning.
Prof. Vinod Menon said, "The same part of the brain that responds to fearful situations, such as seeing a spider or snake, also shows a heightened response in children with high math anxiety."
He said, "Math anxiety is underappreciated in young children, but it is very real and very stimulus-specific. These children do not have high levels of general anxiety."
The study is published this week in Psychological Science.