Todays Reading List: How does a child’s brain change when learning math?

Today at @ontariosdoctors we look at how a child’s brain changes as they learn math. Also, we look at how aerobic exercise for seniors can improve brain function.

According to new research, conducting regular addition and multiplication drills with your kids may pay off. Children between the ages of eight and nine begin to make the switch between counting on their fingers to solve math to something called fact retrieval. Learned at a young age, a child’s performance in memory-based problem solving may predict their overall achievement in math. ABC news brings us this story:

“Those who fall behind are impairing or slowing down their math learning later on,” said researcher Mann Koepke

Stanford University scientists studied the brains of 28 children in a brain-scanning MRI machine as they solved a series of addition problems. The seven to nine year old students were shown calculation on a screen and asked to push a button indicating whether the answer shown was correct or incorrect. Researchers recorded the response times and the area of the brain that became active during the problem solving. The same students were tested face-to-face looking for signs of lips moving or finger counting.

“The children were tested twice, roughly a year apart. As the kids got older, their answers relied more on memory and became faster and more accurate, and it showed in the brain. There was less activity in the prefrontal and parietal regions associated with counting and more in the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, the researchers reported Sunday in Nature Neuroscience.”

“The stronger the connections, the greater each individual’s ability to retrieve facts from memory,” said senior author, Dr. Vinod Menon

Two studies link the brain function of older adults to their exercise habits. Research shows older adults who participate in aerobic fitness perform better on cognitive tests. Results show the more active the person is, the better they score. Scientists suggest exercise benefits the aorta, which is the main blood vessel from the head. The Toronto Sun brings us this story:

“We found that older adults whose aortas were in a better condition and who had greater aerobic fitness performed better on a cognitive test,” researcher Claudine Gauthier said in a release.

This study builds on previous evaluations which state adults who participate in yoga three times a week experience a boost in working memory. Yoga goers are able to perform memory tasks more quickly, accurately and attentively than those who are less active.

Posted on August 27, 2014 in Health in the News, Reading List, Uncategorized

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