Head for numbers? Brain anatomy best predictor of math aptitude

Hippocampus e
The human brains hippocampus highlighted in red. (Credit: Washington Irving, Wikimedia Commons.)

The following is an editorial summary of a longer story. Find a link to the full story below.

“A child who is good at learning math may literally have a head for numbers,” writes Meghan Rosen at Science News. A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found evidence that the physical structure of children’s brains (that is, their biology as shaped by environment) is correlated with their ability to succeed when tutored in math. An excerpt from Rosen’s piece:

Scientists have spent years studying brain regions related to math performance in adults, but how kids learn is still “a huge question,” says Supekar. He and colleagues tested IQ and math and reading performance in 24 8- and 9-year-olds, then scanned their brains in an MRI machine. The scans measured the sizes of different brain structures and the connections among them.

It appears the size and connectedness of children’s hippocampuses — usually associated with memory formation — were the most important factors in predicting their success in math.

View the full story here: Brain measurements predict math progress with tutoring

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