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.

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Nov 2, 2012 2:18 AM CDT
All my life I've always calculated mathematical problems in my head. Nothing complicated, just distance/rate = time, or multiplying in everyday life. I always know the miles from one point to another once I've traveled it. I am a philosophy major and loved complicated arguments; same kind of thinking. I would lay in bed at night and go over them. I do have to say there weren't too many women in my philosophy classes in college or in my calculus/trig classes in high school. My brother was a math person with a advanced degree from UC Berkeley. To tell you the truth I never thought about the gender thing until later in life when I started reading that women don't do as well in math or don't like it. I'm 70 now so I have to use a calculator sometimes which I hate but there you are. I think it's two things: you have a propensity toward math which you are born with or someone convinces you it's difficult and impossible. Well, it could also be that you don't see math for what it is; the expression of being. My brother was the math genius and I always envied him.
Nov 1, 2012 10:03 PM CDT
Math is totally cool. There is no left-wing or right-wing or sloppy opinions, and it's pretty much the basis for damn near everything. If we ever have first contact, math might even be the basis for communication.
Nov 1, 2012 9:51 PM CDT
When I was a kid, I used to figure out difficult math calculations in my head for no reason while trying to fall asleep, but it never hurt.