Math problems can actually cause people anxiety and physical pain, similar to a punch in the gut, a new Canadian study shows.
For people who have anxiety about the school subject, the prospect of performing calculus or other mathematical calculations triggers a response in the brain related to visceral pain, according to a study published in the journal PloS One.
Researchers examined the brain activity of 28 subjects as they were told they were about do math and while they were completing math problems, said Dr. Ian Lyons, a post-doctoral fellow from the Department of Psychology at Western University in London, Ont.
"It turned out that areas [of the brain] that are really important for perceiving pain… think like a stomach ache or a gut punch, these areas were active," he said during an interview with CBC's Quirks and Quarks. "But only during the anticipation."