Researchers from the University of Chicago have found the first neural evidence indicating the nature of the subjective experience of math-anxiety. The research findings imply that fear of maths activates pain networks in the brain.
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The higher a person’s anxiety over a maths task, the more is the increase in brain regions that are associated with visceral threat detection, which often leads to physical pain. According to researchers, the calculation tasks are not painful but merely a thought of it is unpleasant for certain people.
Earlier studies have associated various forms of psychological stress, such as social rejection or a traumatic break-up with elicit feelings of physical pain. Unlike previous researchers which examined the pain associated with a stressful event, this study assessed the pain response associated with anticipating an anxiety provoking event.
The study findings are detailed in the journal Plos One journal.
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