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Math Anxiety: How Students Can Successfully Overcome Ordeal With Numbers, Study Shows

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Afraid of math? here is the best way you can conquer your fear of numbers and overcome your anxiety.
(Photo : Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid )

Math anxiety can be a serious and prevalent problem not just for students but also for some professionals. You have this specific anxiety when soon as numbers and computations are encountered, your palm starts sweating and your heart begins to race.

Although it is a bit difficult to technically define math anxiety, it can still be referred to as the uncomfortable feeling, the panic and stress felt by those who dread numbers. According to Science News for Students, anxiety can interfere with the brain's working memory. Mark Ashcraft, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that if a person is math anxious, anxiety takes away working-memory resources.

Aside from this, studies also suggest that math can literally hurt. Researchers from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and University of Chicago in Illinois, found that doing math can turn on areas in the brain that are associated with pain, but discovered that it was not doing the math that caused pain but the worrying about math.

These researchers have found a link between math success and the activity in the areas of the brain that controls the attention and regulating negative emotional reactions. This response which is usually happening with those who are highly math anxious kicks in even at the mere mention of solving a math problem.

According to the researchers, students who are able to pay more attention to the task rather than their anxiety, can complete math problems more successfully, Science Daily reported. They conclude that the best way to overcome math anxiety and difficulties is to teach students to take control of their emotions before facing any math test. This is because simply providing math instructions or allowing students to become distracted once an exam has begun will still not be effective in achieving success in math.

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