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Math anxiety affects the highest achieving students, says study


A new study shows how math anxiety begins young and is related to memory.


Toshifumi Kitamura

Math anxiety affects high achievers with good memories a new study found.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that math anxiety often affects the highest achievers whose memories are better than the rest.

The study looked at 88 first-graders and 66 second-graders to determine the scope and breadth of math anxiety and who suffers from it.

The researchers looked at students in a big city school system and found that the highest achievers often tended to be the ones who suffered most from a fear of math, said UPI.

Those students who did not rely on their "working memory" and were often less intelligent fared better than their peers who tried to juggle problems in their heads instead of on their fingers, said Phys Org.

Researchers wrote that anxiety created by math often works to disrupt memory making problems more difficult to solve.

The math anxiety even undermined students' performance in the future, often putting them at least a half a year behind their peers, said the Globe and Mail.

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Yet, Red Orbit wondered whether math anxiety was really just performance anxiety.

In an editoral they asked whether it was maybe just the personality of the child rather than a diagnosable problem.

"We should also consider how some of the first- and second-graders’ personalities may have been a factor," the site wrote.

"More introverted children may have experienced some anxiety less from the math and more from needing to interact with someone else."

 The findings will be published in the Journal of Cognition and Development.