Math Anxiety Brain fMRI

This is your brain with math anxiety.

In children as young as 7 years old, researchers found that activation in areas such as the amygdala and hippocampus were seen in children who had high math anxiety. The amydala and hippocampus are areas of the brain associated with fear condition and negative emotions.

The children were given simple and complex arithmetic problems and asked to determine whether the answers given were right or wrong. The children  in the high and low anxiety group were matched for IQ, working memory, reading and math performance, and general trait anxiety.

As a double whammy, the high math anxiety group (HMA) in the figure showed lower brain fMRI activation in areas associated with math processing. So anxiety could be acting at the basic brain level to hijack numerical calculations.

Did You Know? Math anxiety affects 25-50% of the general population.

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