Many people, including myself, hate, or have a strong disliking for math. Math, as I see it, is the study of just a bunch of random numbers and symbols, thrown together, that mean virtually nothing. It is intangible. How much worse can it get? Often times, when I “do” math, I ask myself: how is this going to benefit me in the future? The answer is: it won’t! According to a recent study, all math has in store for me, and other math haters out there, is pain. So all of those long, seemingly endless hours of doing math, have just caused suffering. This is just wonderful.
At The University of Chicago, a team of researchers, including Ian Lyons, discovered that worrying about math can activate regions of the brain, associated with physical pain. People who experience high levels of anxiety, or anxiety at all, when expecting something math related task, sustain increased activity in regions of the brain connected with physical pain. The higher the individuals’ anxiety is, the greater the brain activity is.
The research was done on 14 individuals, who experience math anxiety, according to a survey that was completed. The questions, on the survey, asked about their feelings when encountering anything math related, and measured their anxiety based on their answers. Additional testing concluded that the individual chosen, were not generally anxious people. Their elevated levels of anxiety were a product of math.
After completing the survey, the test subjects were tested in an fMRI machine, while faced with math related tasks. Some of the tasks included: solving equations, in addition to completing word problems.The fMRI scans showed that the anxiety of anticipating math, activated a reaction, in the brain, similar to physical pain. The worse the anxiety is, the more active the brain becomes. The region of the brain that is responsible for this is the posterior insula.