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Sun Oct 23, 2016, 01:26 PM

Turns Out, Counting on Your Fingers Makes You Smarter

Have you ever noticed children secretly counting on their fingers? If so, tell them they can pull their hands from beneath the table. Although many people discourage finger counting for fear it impedes learning, it appears the opposite is true.

Recent research shows that finger perception—the ability to distinguish, name, or recognize the fingers—is correlated with math skill, and even when people aren’t manually ticking off numbers, areas of the brain associated with fingers are still activated. You may not be counting on your fingers, but your brain is.

To see how the mind works while performing arithmetic, Ilaria Berteletti, an educational neuroscientist at Gallaudet University, and a research partner scanned the brains of 39 children ages 8 to 13 while they mentally subtracted and multiplied single-digit numbers. The scans revealed two regions of the brain associated with fingers—the somatosensory area, which responds to sensations such as pressure, pain or heat, and the motor area, which controls movement—were both active during subtraction, even though the children did not use their fingers to arrive at the answers.

It’s the first study to show evidence that the sensory area of the brain plays a functional role in mathematical problem solving. There was no similar brain activity during multiplication, which the researchers interpreted as a reflection of how children learn to subtract versus how they learn to multiply.

(snip)

Scientists don’t know whether finger recognition makes children better at math or whether using fingers for math improves recognition, but what is known for sure is that children who have better finger perception tend to be more skilled at mathematics. Previous studies have shown that a 6-year-old child’s finger perception is a better predictor of math success in the next grade than standard test scores, and training children to improve their finger sense has been demonstrated to also improve their arithmetic.

(snip)

The connection between fingers and math was documented in the 1940s when people with brain injuries lost the ability to perform calculations and, at the same time, identify their fingers. Scientists are still puzzling out the link, but one possibility is that finger recognition helps people visualize abstract concepts.

To demonstrate how visualization can improve mathematical understanding at all levels, Dr. Boaler uses the problem of one divided by two-thirds. The abstract solution involves multiplying one by the reciprocal of the fraction and then converting the result, an improper fraction, to a mixed number. Dr. Boaler, who encourages students to work out problems like these with diagrams and pictures to “see why the answer is what it is,” offers this visual solution. Divide a rectangle into thirds and shade two of the segments to depict how one divided by two-thirds equals one-and-a-half. The goal is to augment, not replace, abstract computations.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/turns-out-counting-on-your-fingers-makes-you-smarter-1477065563




(If you google the title you may be able to access the complete story)

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Reply Turns Out, Counting on Your Fingers Makes You Smarter (Original post)
question everything Oct 2016 OP
elleng Oct 2016 #1
unc70 Oct 2016 #2

Response to question everything (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 01:35 PM

1. IMPEDES learning?

It IS learning!

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Response to question everything (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 02:03 PM

2. It's why we call them digits

So we are doing math digitally.

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