A person is not simply born with the knowledge of numbers. The brain handles knowledge uniquely. Some people are stronger in one subject matter and other people are more adept on another area. Vinod Menon, PhD, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor, researched about how children established problem solving skills to know how to effectively teach those who struggle with math.
Dr. Menon’s latest findings indicate how one year of early math lessons can change children’s brains. The results revealed that as the children became older, they rely more on fact retrieval than on counting numbers. The MRI scans proved that there we physical changes. The stronger the connections in the hippocampus, the greater connection in the hippocampus, the greater is each person’s ability to remember facts from memory.
This study was conducted to children between 7 to 9 years old and they were given a list of simple addition equations while being scanned by an MRI machine. The children were asked to verify whether a given equation is correct or not. As they were answering, the scientists documented speed of the children’s response and how they obtained their answers. The children were also asked face-to-face so researchers could record if the children counted their fingers while trying to answer the mathematical equations. As indicated above, the children relied on their hippocampus, which is the area of the brain associated with memory.
When the same study was conducted to adults, it was observed that the math answers came automatically with no use of the brain’s counting region. It indicated that adults handled the math equations differently and that the there was permanent physical change in the brain’s connections due to years of repeated math practice.
Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health explained that the study yielded remarkable results. Failure to memorize math at a young age could leave you forever counting fingers and it could very well slow down your math learning subsequently.
National Institutes of Health, the one who funded the study, hopes to find better ways to help children overcome their math learning disabilities. Dr. Mann Koepke ended by sharing a piece of advice to parents that they should keep on doing math drills with their children. Experience matters and those simple multiplication and addition exercises could go a long way.
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Don’t stop with the math drills. Keep on doing multiplication and addition exercises with your children because it will remarkably help them later on in life.
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