Many people feel a strong dislike for math. It is a common issue that can hold children back in school and even prevent them from pursuing certain careers and reaching higher levels professionally. However, neuroscientific research increasingly suggests that controlling a student's anxiety may mitigate this distaste for math.
The California-based researcher Judy Willis told Education Week that when a person feels stressed, they have more activity in the brain region known as the amygdala. When this area is activated, it cuts off functioning in the prefrontal cortex, the section of the brain that is responsible for working memory and critical thinking, two traits that are needed for solving math problems.
She told the news source that even so much as seeing a frowning face can set off stress reactions that interfere with a student's math abilities.
This information suggests that, aside from ensuring that teachers provide students with a more friendly atmosphere for taking tests, students should be taught stress-management skills.
Author and philosopher Ilchi Lee says that meditation and other forms of mental training can play key roles in helping individuals learn to handle stress and perform their best under pressure.