The Impact of Math Anxiety on Working Memory:A Cortical Activations and Cortical Functional Connectivity EEG Study


Mathematical anxiety (MA) is defined as a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with mathematical performance in various daily or academic situations. Cognitive consequences of MA have been studied a lot and revealed that MA seriously affects solving the complex problem due to the corruption of working memory (WM). The corruption of WM caused by MA is well documented in behavioral level, but the involved neurophysiological processes have not been properly addressed, despite the recent attention drawn on the neural basis of MA. This is the second part of our study that intents to investigate the neurophysiological aspects of MA and its implications to WM. In the first study, we saw how MA affects the early stages of numeric stimuli processes as the WM indirectly using event-related potentials in scalp electroencephalographic (EEG) signals. This paper goes one step further to investigate the cortical activations, obtained by the multichannel EEG recordings as well as the cortical functional networks in three WM tasks with increasing difficulty. Our results indicate that the high-math anxious (HMA) group activated more areas linked with negative emotions, pain, and fear, while the low-math anxious (LMA) group activated regions related to the encoding and retrieval processes of the WM. Functional connectivity analysis also reveals that the LMAs' brain has got more structured cortical networks with increased connectivity in areas related to WM, such as the frontal cortex, while the HMAs' brain has a more diffused and unstructured network, superimposing the evidence that the structured processes of WM are corrupted.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences
Funding Information: The work of M. A. Klados was supported in part by the Research Committee, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Additional Information: © 2019 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.
Uncontrolled Keywords: EEG,Mathematical anxiety,cortical functional connectivity,math anxiety,working memory,Computer Science(all),Materials Science(all),Engineering(all)
Publication ISSN: 2169-3536
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2024 08:22
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2019 11:31
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-01-14
Accepted Date: 2019-01-01
Authors: Klados, Manousos A. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1629-6446)
Paraskevopoulos, Evangelos
Pandria, Niki
Bamidis, Panagiotis D.



Version: Accepted Version

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