Math Can Hurt You—Physically

Just thinking about it hurts, say researchers
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2012 12:17 PM CDT
A study by University of Chicago researchers suggests that the stress caused by thinking about math can produce actual physical pain.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Thanks to Barbie, we've long known that math class is tough. But now scientists say just the thought of math can be downright painful, reports Stuff. Researchers used MRIs to measure subjects' brain activity in a variety of hypothetical situations, including "walking to math class" and "receiving a math textbook" The study showed that people experiencing high levels of stress could feel actual physical pain from the experience.

Interestingly, the study showed that you don't feel pain from actually doing math, just from worrying about it. The University of Chicago researchers believe that the pain associated with math anxiety could explain why so many people avoid careers in math-related fields. You can read the full, original article at PLoS ONE. (Read more mathematics stories.)

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