Maths May Cause Phobia & Pain

According to the Le Figaro newspaper, mathematics can cause pain, as evidenced by the study of the American scientists. The experts from the University of Chicago have found that the fear of solving mathematical problems activates cortex areas, responsible for the recognition of danger and pain. They believe that this fear is similar to phobia according to its influence: the cortex is activated during the process of expecting, and not while soving a mathematical problem.


The experiment involved 14 people, who had bad feelings when they were to deal with mathematics: they were worried not only by the problem, but by the kind of a textbook and the interior of the room, devoted to the discipline. The participants of the experiment were offered a test to solve mathematical problems (e.g., is it true that (12 x 4) – 19 = 29?), and at the same time, a magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) of their brain was being conducted. In addition, the volunteers were offered a task not related to mathematics: they were asked to deal with a word search puzzle.

The MRT results showed that the type of mathematical problems awakened the brain areas, associated with physical pain. However, these areas remained passive during the process of solving mathematical problems. It means that expectation was more unpleasant that the event itself. Thus, for some people mathematics is the subject of a phobia, while others are afraid of a snake or a spider.

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