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Shocking Mathematics News...

The terms are abundant: dyscalculia, math dyslexia, math learning-disabled, math dysfunctional, slow, and even parental appeals to heredity: "I couldn't get mathematics so that is why my child can't as well." Despite this plethora of terms, do solutions exist?

A team, led by neuroscientist Roi Cohen Kadosh, at the University of Oxford, claims to have a "finding" that could lead to long-lasting solutions. Though their research involved "normal" subjects, the research focused on the learning disability that prevents an individual from learning even simple mathematics.

What is their solution? A noninvasive method called "transcranial direct current stimulation (TDSC)." That's right. Using pads attached to scalps, they applied 20-minute long bursts of weak current to the subjects' brains (i.e. parietal lobes where number processing occurs) over six days as the subjects participated in a learning task. Using a counterintutive approach, the researchers found that their treatments "actually improved mathematical abilities"...and the effects remained over a period of six months.

On the one hand, the researchers claim the prospects are positive, as such could improve diminshed numerical ability linked to "unemployment and low income, depression, low self-esteem" etc. But, on the other hand, they face ethical concerns. For example, Cohen Kabosh asks if the technique should be barred from use by "a normal person without a disability who stimulates his or her brain to boost math prowess" thereby "giving themselves an unfair advantage."

Sorry, I can't write any more, as I have to pause for my six-month TDCS, so necessary to maintain my "prowess" as a mathematics professor.

Source: Ker Than's "Stimulating the Brain," National Geographic News, Nov. 4, 2020