HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Lack of math education ne...

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 03:16 PM

Lack of math education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development

A new study suggests that not having any math education after the age of 16 can be disadvantageous

Adolescents who stopped studying maths exhibited greater disadvantage -- compared with peers who continued studying maths -- in terms of brain and cognitive development, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

133 students between the ages of 14-18 took part in an experiment run by researchers from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Unlike the majority of countries worldwide, in the UK 16-year-old students can decide to stop their maths education. This situation allowed the team to examine whether this specific lack of maths education in students coming from a similar environment could impact brain development and cognition.

The study found that students who didn't study maths had a lower amount of a crucial chemical for brain plasticity (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) in a key brain region involved in many important cognitive functions, including reasoning, problem solving, maths, memory and learning. Based on the amount of brain chemical found in each student, researchers were able to discriminate between adolescents who studied or did not study maths, independent of their cognitive abilities. Moreover, the amount of this brain chemical successfully predicted changes in mathematical attainment score around 19 months later. Notably, the researchers did not find differences in the brain chemical before the adolescents stopped studying maths.

Roi Cohen Kadosh, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, led the study. He said: "Maths skills are associated with a range of benefits, including employment, socioeconomic status, and mental and physical health. Adolescence is an important period in life that is associated with important brain and cognitive changes. Sadly, the opportunity to stop studying maths at this age seems to lead to a gap between adolescents who stop their maths education compared to those who continue it. Our study provides a new level of biological understanding of the impact of education on the developing brain and the mutual effect between biology and education.

"It is not yet known how this disparity, or its long-term implications, can be prevented. Not every adolescent enjoys maths so we need to investigate possible alternatives, such as training in logic and reasoning that engage the same brain area as maths."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210607161149.htm

8 replies, 411 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Lack of math education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development (Original post)
Klaralven Jun 10 OP
Ocelot II Jun 10 #1
Klaralven Jun 10 #3
exboyfil Jun 10 #5
Klaralven Jun 10 #8
Ocelot II Jun 10 #6
DBoon Jun 10 #2
exboyfil Jun 10 #4
Peppertoo Jun 10 #7

Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 03:33 PM

1. What if you kept taking math classes after age 16

but remained completely stupid at it anyhow? (raises hand)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Ocelot II (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 03:41 PM

3. I think that most people can continue to learn math

The problem with math is that it is progressive, with courses building on previous courses. People learn at different speeds and require different amounts of effort. So people who are "good at math" are the fast learners who can keep up or keep ahead of the pace. People who are "completely stupid" at math are ones who learn more slowly, fall behind, and find the next course too difficult.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Klaralven (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 04:00 PM

5. I think there can be an Algebra II

off ramp where the focus is more on business and practical math and statistics. I am trying to make a case, when you have so much to learn about a particular subject, where learning Calculus and even Trig, is more important than a good foundation in statistics. Those who go on to engineering, science, math, and some quant business need Calculus; but what about the rest?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to exboyfil (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 06:57 PM

8. Everyone should understand the math of money and tests of statistical significance

Interest calculations, the time value of money, and an understanding of exponential growth are needed for basic financial decision making.

Probabilities, statistical sampling, and tests for significance are needed for sorting through the BS purveyed by the media.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Klaralven (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 04:08 PM

6. Decades later I went through a professional course that required me

to do some fairly complicated algebra, and I had no trouble with it. Maybe it just took a lot of time to sink in.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 03:34 PM

2. math is the perfect subject to "gamify"

Might help with holding interest and making the subject more comprehensible

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to DBoon (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 03:56 PM

4. Really good suggestion

Also have math that means something. Teaching finance and statistics for example.


The ability to do back of the envelope calculations as part of your BS detector is an important skill. I have been shocked by even engineers that don't break down a statement and conclude that it is impossible that is true.

The thing about math is that if you don't use it, you lose it. Relearning again can happen, but it seems to take longer each time (I have relearned Calculus and Differential Equations three times essentially). Once in 1992 (seven years after BS when working on MS), again around 1998 (when pursuing a PdD), and again around 2014 when helping my daughter when she was taking online Calculus and Differential Equation courses.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Klaralven (Original post)

Thu Jun 10, 2021, 04:25 PM

7. Interesting

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread