Kids sought for brain study of math skills

Using MRIs, Stanford researchers to probe brain science of math ability

Neuroscientists at Stanford University are seeking second- and third-grade children for a study of how math skills develop in kids -- with and without math difficulties -- as a result of math tutoring.

Children will be asked to solve math problems while having their brains scanned with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Researchers are seeking both typically developing children and children with math learning disabilities.

The study, led by Vinod Menon, professor of psychiatry an behavioral sciences, is part of the Stanford Math Brain Project.

The project is aimed at advancing the state of behavioral, cognitive and neuroscience research in the area of symbolic, numerical and mathematical reasoning and learning, according to its website.

The goal is to understand the neural basis of mathematical difficulties, and to develop "brain-based methods and evidence" to help improve math skills in people with learning disabilities, the website said.

The MRI is a non-invasive medical imaging technique typically used to visualize the internal structure and function of the body.

Participants in the math study will watch videos while undergoing a "structural" MRI to take a picture of the brain. That will be followed by a "functional" MRI, during which the child will do math problems while blood-flow responses related to neural activity are measured.

A child will be in the scanner for about an hour and a half, and will receive a picture of his or her brain as well as $50 for each scan.

According to Stanford's Math Brain website, the MRI is a "safe, FDA-approved non-invasive procedure.

"Since 2005, over 120 children ages 7-9 have safely completed MRI scans for the Stanford Math Brain Project," the website said.

The Math Brain Project has developed a video using the Sesame Street character Elmo to help kids prepare for the MRI scan.

For more information, visit the Math Brain Project website or contact Leslie McNeil at or 650-736-0128.


Like this comment
Posted by ajish
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2010 at 6:59 am

Excellent point, to highlight that "brain study". More and more brain research supports the idea that our brain functioning can improve no matter our age, with the adoption of appropriate lifestyle and tools, and that doing so can help build our cognitive reserves and protect our brains against decline and even Alzheimer´s symptoms. I recommend checking out for a lot of good stuff on lifelong cognitive health and brain fitness, including this nice checklist to evaluate "brain training" products and claims: Web Link


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