[Listening] Math Hurts Your Brain – Why?

Hey, guys! Welcome to [Listening]!

Before today’s listening, let’s check the answers to the last episode.

  1. stranded;
  2. strayed into;
  3. controversial.

MATH, MESS, MAD! This subject has been troubling students of all time. Students always feel anxious when facing difficult math questions, and they might lose the marks they should’ve got. That’s too bad. And what’s even worse, learning math may hurt their brains. Wanna know about the details? Do the listening and you’ll see!


Click the button at the bottom of the screen to play the audio. Please fill in the blanks and leave your answers in the comment. The answers will be revealed in the next episode.

Let’s get started!

According to one study, people with very high levels of math anxiety actually experience pain when confronted with a math ______(1 Word Missing). Not metaphorical pain — actual, real pain.

OK, but what does that mean? How can math cause pain?

It’s all in the brain, of course. The researchers compared fourteen people with high math anxiety to fourteen people with low math anxiety. Each group was given a series of word and math problems while an MRI machine scanned their brain activity. Before each problem, either a yellow circle would appear to ______(1 Word Missing) that they were about to solve a math problem, or a blue square would pop up to signal a word problem.

When people with high math anxiety saw the ______(1 Word Missing) yellow circle, the parts of their brain linked to pain perception lit up like a pinball machine. People with low math anxiety didn’t show much or any activity in that part of the brain.

So doing math problems caused real pain. Not exactly. It’s the anticipation of doing math that lit up the pain sensors. Actually doing math didn’t cause any pain — related brain activity.


That’s all for [Listening] today!

Please leave your answers in the comments below! 😘

See you next time!


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