, finds a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Stanford University researchers used individualized tutoring as a form of therapy, in which a phobic person is repeatedly exposed to something that scares them in a safe, controlled environment. The researchers tested 46 3rd graders on math anxiety. Then the children each had 22 tutoring sessions on addition and subtraction.
Arithmetic skills of all the students improved after tutoring. For highly math-anxious children, functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, scans also found lower brain activity afterwards in the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with fear and emotion.
A version of this article appeared in the September 16, 2015 edition of Education Week as Math Anxiety