Mathematics could be literally painful after a new study published in the journal PLoS One revealed that in some people, the brain regions responsible for physical pain are activated due to fear of math.
The study was conducted by researchers at University of Chicago who observed 14 people suffering from high levels of mathematics-anxiety (HMAs) and another group of 14 people with low levels of maths anxiety.
The researchers found that the brain region associated with pain was activated in all of the participants with higher the anxiety levels, greater the pain. However the researchers said that the brain activation was not found when the participants were performing the tasks, but rather the anticipation of the task led to the pain.
"Interestingly, this relation was not seen during math performance, suggesting that it is not that math itself hurts, rather, the anticipation of math is painful. Our data suggest that pain network activation underlies the intuition that simply anticipating a dreaded event can feel painful", the researchers wrote in their report.