For questions about the neurobiological or psychological bases of performing symbolic or numeric computations.

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Is there any evidence of a relationship between learning music and increased ability in Mathematics?

I've had more than one mathematics teacher say to me that they had heard of a link between music and maths ability. I thought I observed it informally myself, but it was difficult to tell if those ...
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4answers
192 views

.Do students learn better when challenged (specifically, in math education)?

Originally posted on Math.SE, but it was suggested cogsci.SE would be a more suitable venue. I'm aware of two publications that have trickled onto the radar screens of non-specialists: Fortune ...
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0answers
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How does motivation and performance vary from day to day between mathematical and artistic activity?

Background: I've noticed that my performance in math class varies on a day-to-day basis, but I also tend to feel artistic on certain days (and enjoy playing songs on my guitar or writing poems). When ...
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2answers
505 views

Is consistent dual n-back training likely to improve the performance of analysis (mathematics) students?

Suppose you isolate a class of undergraduate mathematics majors who are about to enroll in a semester of real analysis (rigorous, proof-based calculus) and split them into two groups. Then, you ...
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1answer
65 views

How does the brain learn abstract maths?

I have found quite a bit of information of how, on a neurological level, we learn the most basic forms of maths. We seem to be hardwired from the get go, to deal with manageable quantities, can ...
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1answer
83 views

How far can we train mental calculation?

Mental calculators are people with a prodigious ability in some area of mental calculation, such as multiplying large numbers or factoring large numbers. Unfortunately I forgot where I heard it, ...
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1answer
121 views

How many calories do we burn when we try to understand mathematical proofs?

While thinking we burn calories. For comparison: "And if it’s the right wood and the right chess grand masters in the middle of a tournament, they are going through 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day ...
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1answer
106 views

What's the percentage of people that are mental calculator prodigies?

I want to reply to this comment: What's the percentage of people that are mental calculator prodigies? How do they spread over the different parts of the world?
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4answers
342 views

Is the mathematician's activity psychologically healthy?

I am a professional mathematician, and I regularly meet other mathematicians. I have come to wonder if there is something like a slight neurosis, specific to this activity. To be more precise, let ...
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2answers
92 views

Can you retain a large number in your head for an extended period of time without distortion?

If someone where to recite "794 times 869", they might struggle to retain the numbers pitch perfect in their head as I perform the calculations. Are there any exercises one could perform to improve ...
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2answers
89 views

What causes student errors on a problem involving differentiating a factorial?

Consider the following maths problem, assuming only a high-school level knowledge of calculus: If $f(x) = x!$, find $df/dx$ Almost all of my respondents seemed to switch on their "mental ...
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1answer
169 views

What does cognitive science say about whether to learn mathematics top-down from research papers?

There is currently a popular question on math.SE on whether it is effective to learn math top-down. By top-down I mean finding a paper that interests you which is obviously way over your head, ...
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268 views

Does associating a color with numbers improve math learning?

I have heard a number of reports that some mathematical savants associate particular colors with numbers. It got me wondering, if colors are associated with numbers during mathematical teaching, ...
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1answer
102 views

What makes the difficulty of an arithmetic item? The operation or its length?

When presenting someone with an arithmetic item, let's say 2+2, what makes it difficult? Is the item 2+2+2 only longer, or also more difficult? Does the mental operation of addition make the ...
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1answer
162 views

What research has modelled the difficulty of mental mathematical calculation?

I posted this also on mathoverflow. What research has modelled the difficulty of evaluating a formula mentally (for your average, numerate, person, not a trained mental calculator)? For instance, ...
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2answers
1k views

Is there a term for individuals who can “visualize” numbers and advanced mathematics?

I recently saw an episode of 60 Minutes about Jacob Barnett, a 13 year old boy who is currently attending advanced physics classes at a local university and was portrayed by the show as being a child ...
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1answer
356 views

What are biological primary mathematical skills?

In doing a bit of background reading for this question I came across a section in the book Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind on page 602 stating: There are no sex-related differences ...