Stanford University’s researchers studied how children’s brains grow in comparison with how they learn math during their schooling. The scientists discovered that as they became older, the students seemed to rely progressively more on fact retrieval than on counting numbers. Some physical changes in the developing brains were also remarkable: the neural connections in the hippocampus (the part of the brain linked with memory and spatial navigation) were reorganized in a way making fact retrieval operations simpler.

The researchers also noted that teens’ and adults’ brains handle math equations differently than children’s brains do, evidence that practicing math profoundly modifies the developing human brain, physically and functionally. Because “experience really does matter,” Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health (the organization who funded the study) recommends to parents of young kids to continue with those multiplication and addition math drills.

Picture: Arcanys Early Learning Foundation