Entries in Brain Function (3)


Brains of Kids With Math Anxiety Function Differently, Says Study

Fuse/Getty Images(STANFORD, Calif.) -- Kids who get the jitters before a math test may actually have different brain functions than kids without math anxiety, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine recruited about 50 second and third graders and separated them into either a high-math anxiety group or a low-anxiety group based on a standard questionnaire they modified for 7- to 9-year-olds.  They scanned the children’s brains while the kids did addition and subtraction problems.

They found that children with a high level of math anxiety were slower at solving problems and were less accurate than children with lower math anxiety.

“Children who said they had math anxiety had greater responses in the areas of the brain implicated in processing negative emotions like fear, particularly the amygdala,” said Vinod Menon, a co-author and professor of child psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience at Stanford.  “We also saw reduced activity in areas normally associated with mathematical problem solving.”

Math anxiety in young children has not been widely studied, and there are no clearly established criteria for diagnosis, Menon said.

“Math anxiety is underappreciated in young children, but it is very real and very stimulus-specific,” Menon said.  “These children do not have high levels of general anxiety.”

It’s unclear what type of long-term impact math anxiety has on children since it’s an area that hasn’t been widely studied in this age group, according to Menon.  But previous research in adolescents and adults has found that math anxiety led many people to avoid advanced math classes, which later affected their career choices.

The findings, the authors said, could eventually be used to develop ways to address this specific type of anxiety, which “has significant implications for an individual’s long-term academic and professional success,” they wrote.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Video Games Can Effect Brain Function, Study Shows

JupiterImages/Brand X Pictures(INDIANAPOLIS) -- New research out of the University of Indiana School of Medicine in Indianapolis backs up earlier studies on the effects of violent video games on the behavior of those who play them.

Lead investigator Dr. Vincent Mathews says a group of young men underwent testing after playing violent video games for an extended period. He says that researchers measured blood flow in certain areas of the brain affecting behavior and saw in brain scans clear evidence that the games made a difference.

Those who played a violent video game for a week demonstrated decreased activity or decreased activation in areas of the brain that were “involved in focusing, paying attention," Matthews said. "They're involved in being able to inhibit responses or not respond to certain things. They're involved in emotional decision-making.”

Though it’s not the first study to link video games with behavioral changes, this research involved actual brain scans.

“There have been a number of different studies that have shown increases in aggressive behavior after exposure to violent video game-play,” Matthews said. “So I think that what our results show is a potential explanation for those observations that others have made.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Foreign Languages May Protect Memory

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- A new study suggests that speaking more than two languages over an entire lifespan may lower the risk of developing memory problems.

Researchers looked at 230 people with an average age of 73 years who had spoken or currently speak two to seven languages, and evaluated their thought processes by psychological evaluation. The authors – taking into account the participants’ age and education – discovered that people who spoke three or four languages during their lifetime or picked up a new language in their senior years were approximately three times less likely to develop memory problems than people who spoke two languages.

Authors of the study – conducted by Fonds National de la Recherché Luxembourg and presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology – concluded that practicing multiple languages over an entire lifespan can be as protective for memory as practicing languages as a senior.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio