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Lack of math education negatively affects the brain

06/27/2021 at 12:01 AM CEST

Literature, physics, chemistry, English and math. Those are, according to all sociologists, the subjects most hated by students.

Interestingly, two of the five, those that rank first and second, are probably the ones that educators insist the most on the importance of mastering them perfectly.

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Everything revolves, for a while, or almost everything, around mathematics; and everything has been spoken for years, or almost everything, in the language of Shakespeare.

There is math anxiety, that’s a fact, which refers to that “feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with manipulating numbers and solving math problems in a wide variety of academic situations and in ordinary life.”

A reflection of that anxiety and that lack of understanding is the contempt to which the students submit to the science of Pythagoras.

The problem is that our brain does love math. And it also needs them for its proper development. Specifically from 16 years of age.

This is demonstrated by the latest study conducted by researchers from the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team was in charge of analyzing whether the lack of mathematics in various groups of students from similar backgrounds would affect or not the cognitive development of the brain.

This assumption was confirmed. Students who did not take mathematics had fewer gamma-amnobutyric acid, a crucial chemical for promoting brain plasticity in a key region for the development of a good handful of cognitive functions.

A chemist who was present in the same way in those same students before they stopped taking mathematics.

‘Mathematics skills are associated with a variety of benefits, including employment, socioeconomic status, and mental and physical health. Adolescence is an important period in life that is associated with major brain and cognitive changes. Stopping studying mathematics at that age creates a gap with those who continue to do it, ”says study director Roi Cohen Kadosh, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

The British study provides a new level of biological understanding of the impact of education on the developing brain.

One more proof of the effect between biology and education is obtained.

In the light of this study, the relationship that exists between cognitive development and total lack of training should also be asked. Or how it has been able to affect, and will affect future results, those training deficits forced by the confinements caused during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should mathematics then be compulsory?

In the British educational system, in the same way that happens in many others such as the one that currently governs educational programs in Spain, there is the option, from the age of 16, to choose between a future of science or a future of letters.

That choice, as they point out in Oxford, ends up causing a gap between those who follow a path with numbers and those who choose a more literary path.

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It is necessary to reinforce, according to the experts, that area that allows a correct cognitive development.

That, although they do not seduce, at all, mathematics to adolescents.

The authors of the Oxford University study, George Zacharopolous, Roi Cohen Kadosh and Francesco Sella, insist on the importance and the need to find, given the “hate & rdquor; that adolescents feel about mathematics, educational alternatives that complete this mathematical deficit.

“Not all adolescents enjoy mathematics, so we must investigate possible alternatives, such as training in logic and reasoning that involve the same area of ​​the brain as mathematics,” says lead author of the research, Professor Roi Cohen Kadosh .

Alternatives capable of making up for the lack of mathematical training are needed for the correct cognitive development of our adolescents.

Which? That is already a matter for educators.

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