Monday, February 26, 2007

Math anxiety saps working memory

Worrying about how you’ll perform on a math test may actually contribute to a lower test score This worry can often sap the brain’s limited amount of working memory, a resource needed to compute difficult math problems.

This research was conducted by Mark Ashcroft, a psychologist at the University of Nevada Los Vegas. He speculated that math anxiety occupies a person’s working memory.

Ashcroft speculated while easy math tasks such as addition require only a small fraction of a person’s working memory, harder computations require much more.

Worrying about math takes up a large chunk of a person’s working memory stores as well, spelling disaster for the anxious student who is taking a high-stakes test.

Stress about how one does on tests like college entrance exams can make even good math students choke.

Although test preparation classes can help students overcome this anxiety, they are limited to students whose families can afford them.

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