Lack of math education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development

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Sumary of Lack of math education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development:

  • 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..
  • 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..
  • “Maths skills are associated with a range of benefits, including employment, socioeconomic status, and mental and physical health….

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