The Neurocognitive Architecture of Individual Differences in Math Anxiety in Typical Children

Hartwright, Charlotte, Looi, Chung Yen, Sella, Francesco, Inuggi, Alberto, Heloísa Santos, Flávia, González-Salinas, Carmen, García Santos, Jose, Cohen Kadosh, Roi and Fuentes, Luis (2018). The Neurocognitive Architecture of Individual Differences in Math Anxiety in Typical Children. Scientific Reports, 8 ,

Abstract

Math Anxiety (MA) is characterized by a negative emotional response when facing math-related situations. MA is distinct from general anxiety and can emerge during primary education. Prior studies typically comprise adults and comparisons between high- versus low-MA, where neuroimaging work has focused on differences in network activation between groups when completing numerical tasks. The present study used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to identify the structural brain correlates of MA in a sample of 79 healthy children aged 7–12 years. Given that MA is thought to develop in later primary education, the study focused on the level of MA, rather than categorically defining its presence. Using a battery of cognitive- and numerical-function tasks, we identified that increased MA was associated with reduced attention, working memory and math achievement. VBM highlighted that increased MA was associated with reduced grey matter in the left anterior intraparietal sulcus. This region was also associated with attention, suggesting that baseline differences in morphology may underpin attentional differences. Future studies should clarify whether poorer attentional capacity due to reduced grey matter density results in the later emergence of MA. Further, our data highlight the role of working memory in propagating reduced math achievement in children with higher MA.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-26912-5
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Applied Health Research Group
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Te images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. © The Author(s) 2018 Funding: Authors CEH FS, and RCK were supported by the European Research Council (Learning and Achievement, award number 338065). Authors LJF, FHS, JMGS and CGS were supported by grant PSI2017-84556-P from Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (FEDER funding).
Uncontrolled Keywords: math anxiety,brain,voxel based morphometry,attention,psychology,neuroscience,cognition,children,development
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Related URLs: https://www.nat ... 598-018-26912-5 (Publisher URL)
https://osf.io/pdfje/ (Related URL)
Published Date: 2018-05-31
Authors: Hartwright, Charlotte ( 0000-0002-1197-7541)
Looi, Chung Yen
Sella, Francesco
Inuggi, Alberto
Heloísa Santos, Flávia
González-Salinas, Carmen
García Santos, Jose
Cohen Kadosh, Roi
Fuentes, Luis

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