Feel the Pain, mathematically speaking

k5750663With nerves of iron

the crackling pain, hissing pain

Haiku-Heightsprompt, PAIN
prompt, PAIN

seers its brand on brain

FINALLY! the reason I did not become an engineer, CPA or nuclear physicist and had to take graduate level statistic three (count ’em, 3) times – I have an avoidant personality.  Here’s proof:

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald “Worry about math can trigger regions of the brain associated with the experience of physical pain and instinctive risk detection, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and published in PLOS ONE.”

“Ian Lyons and his team of researchers discovered that in people who experience high levels of anxiety when anticipating math tasks, encountering math increases activity in regions of the brain connected with the feeling of physical pain. The more elevated a person’s math anxiety, the greater the appearance of neural activity is.”

“The fMRI scans showed the worry of upcoming math events triggered a response in the brain similar to physical pain. (What about WORRY of any kind? Now I’m worried that the researchers have missed the broader picture)The higher the anxiety about math, the more math anticipation activated the posterior insula, a piece of tissue deep in the brain located above the ear, and is connected to acknowledging threats to the body as well as physical pain.”4171259-western-branding-iron-brand-of-a-lazy-tilted-alphabetic-letter

“Earlier studies have indicated that other forms of psychological stress, like a traumatic break-up, or social rejection, can also cause feelings of physical pain. However, this particular study analyzes the pain response connected with anticipating an anxiety-inducing event, instead of the pain connected to the stressful event itself.” (How about anticipating an anxiety-inducing event, like ANTICIPATING EXPERIENCING PAIN!)*

The authors conclude that their findings suggest that it is not the act of performing a mathematical task that prompts this response, but rather the anticipation of math.” (They didn’t need to do all that research.  I could have told them when I was in grade school) 

“These results give a possible neural platform for the observation that people with high math anxiety are more likely to avoid math-related situations, (balancing my check book)  like math classes and math-related careers. Therefore, avoidance comes from experiencing this painful anxiety.”

To read the entire article of which I have CALCULATINGLY taken the parts that interests me, click here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252363.php

*P.S.  Research does show that when we anticipate feeling pain all pain does become heightened.

9 thoughts on “Feel the Pain, mathematically speaking

  1. Hi Judith! My daughter would absolutely love this one and will preserve it for ever to flaunt whenever she is faced with maths hysteria, hahaha………..(Though her teacher will downrightly reject it).

    your haiku……it rhhhyyyyyyymmmmmmeeeeeeedddddddddd!



  2. Anticipating thinking about reading about pain caused me to pause, then procrastinate reading the article, then thinking about procrastinating about reading the article – ai, now I have a headache! Self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ll read it tomorrow when I feel better!


  3. Nice read.. I never had fear of Maths.. but then don’t know why did I choose not to become an Engineer.. maybe leaving Table Tennis could have been more painful..perhaps…Thanks Judy for this informative piece..



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