When Math Hurts

When Math Hurts: Math Anxiety Predicts Pain Network Activation in Anticipation of Doing Math

Doing math is a pain in the head;
At least that’s what we’ve all learned in dread.
But it’s not math that hurts,
A brain-scan asserts;
It’s fear itself hurts us instead.

Lyons IM, Beilock SL (2012) When Math Hurts: Math Anxiety Predicts Pain Network Activation in Anticipation of Doing Math. PLoS ONE 7(10): e48076. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048076

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3 thoughts on “When Math Hurts

  1. Why math? You have the same effects with any activities with which you are sure that you fail. By the way math can be fun and easy-going without any stress at [edit: removed commercial URL]

    • If you read the linked paper, you’d see that they were doing a follow-up to a general study about anxiety and pain. They wanted to test whether the pain response was directly linked to the anxiety, or if it was a separate evolutionary response to the cause of the anxiety, so they wanted to test anxiety about something that was unlikely to have been under selection pressure in early human society – hence, math.

      (I’m not sure if I agree with them about selection pressure, but that was the idea.)

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