# DailyDirt: Help For The Mathophobic

### from the *urls-we-dig-up* dept

Plenty of students in school don’t like math. There’s not much room to argue for points when grade school arithmetic is either wrong or right. With a better understanding of how our brains work, we might be able to devise some ways to make math more pleasant for everyone. At the very least, we can remind people to always show their work.

- Some people experience physical pain when presented with difficult math problems, but it’s not doing the math itself that hurts — it’s the anticipation of doing the math. Fortunately, math anxiety can be overcome with various techniques, just like other phobias. [url]
- Correlation isn’t causation, folks, but a small study showed that 20 people did better at some math problems while smelling rosemary oil. These researchers should probably sniff some of their aromatherapy oils while doing the statistical analysis of this work…. [url]
- Math ability can be predicted by fMRI scans that measure the strength of communication between the left and right hemispheres in the brain. If there is a causal link, impaired math abilities could be improved with training tasks aimed at coordinating brain activity. [url]

If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.

Filed Under: arithmetic, aromatherapy, brain, fmri, math, pain

## Comments on “DailyDirt: Help For The Mathophobic”

## pain from anything you don't like...

on that “math causes pain” study: I’d like to see them do the same thing for people who don’t like to read 19th century british literature. I’m sure some ppl out there also feel the pain of having to do thier English homework assignments.

During Highschool, one of my teachers gave us all perpermints. Who knows if they helped, but they certainly didn’t make it any worse. If anything it at least made the test more pleasant.

## People great at Math

I remember watching an episode of superhumans where they were looking into a guy who could super complex math problems, to several decimal points, in his head faster than college math students could punch them into their calculators. Turned out from the fMRI scans that he used the wrong part of his brain to do math problems. Instead of the logic center he was using the part of his brain that is responsible for coordination. It makes sense since that part of our brain is capable of calculating extremely complex things very fast. Thought it was kinda cool, and somewhat related.

I never did very well at more advanced math such as algebra. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work, it was that we were almost invariably given problems that included portions we hadn’t bee taught how to solve. Maybe it was supposed to be a way of teaching us how to figure things out on our own, but in my case it didn’t work. They’d teach us how to solve for X and then give us a few problems that included Y as well.

Of course now I’ve pretty much forgotten all of it…

## Re: Re:

“more advanced math such as algebra”

Sorry – but algebra is not considered advanced math. Algebra is part of the basic building blocks upon which more advanced mathematics is built.