Mental arithmetic puts effort on our brains. It's like going to the gym. We can lift a one-pound weight
or lift a fifty-pound weight. Lifting a one-pound weight is like using our calculator. Almost no effort
is required. But if we practice mental arithmetic, it's like an exercise for our brain. It improves our
cognitive abilities and helps us focus more. It helps us learn to avoid distractions while concentrating
on a task. Solving mental arithmetic problems requires our full attention. We cannot get distracted
because then we won't remember where we were in the math problem. Especially in today's age of phones,
gadgets and our attention spans, concentration is even more important.
All of the brain areas work together by communicating with one another. This communication happens over
a wide network of pathways (called white matter) that connect all brain areas. These networks are
similar to the way roads connect different cities, allowing different brain regions are involved in the
process of solving arithmetic problems. They are all related to our attention in varying degrees. When
doing mental math, the brains need to mobilize visual attention, sequential reasoning, decision-making
etc, which requires to concentrate and avoid distractions. It also trains kids to rely more on their own
Recent studies have shown that learning mental math may be the optimum way to develop and improve a
young student’s ability to do mathematics. If you search the Internet for “mental arithmetic,” you can
access numerous studies on how mental arithmetic positively impacts children’s cognitive development.
The human brain has the same general structure as the brain of other mammals, but has a larger size
relative to body weight. The human brain is almost twice bigger than brain of bottlenose dolphin, and
three times bigger than the chimpanzee brain. The largest increase provides cerebral cortex, especially
its frontal lobes, which are associated with executive functions such as: self-control, planning,
reasoning and the ability to abstract thinking, as well as perseverance and a wonderful memory. Part of
the cerebral cortex associated with vision, among the representatives of the human species is also
highly increased.The mental math game by Beiens offers a hearing and visual way to learn math,and is
popular with many parents and children. The design of Beiens mental math game is in line with the
development of children's hearing and vision and the law of movement. Long-term use of this product for
mental arithmetic training has a shaping effect on the function, structure and network of the brain.
Brain training games can also help us develop working memory and short-term memory. Working memory is a
specific type of memory. There is short-term memory, long-term memory, and working memory. Long-term
memory is something that can last from days to years. The duration of short-term memory (without
recitation or activation) is measured in seconds, usually 5-20 seconds. Working memory is a cognitive
system with limited memory capacity that is used to hold information temporarily. Working memory has an
important impact on reasoning and guiding decision-making and behavior. Working memory is slightly
different from short-term memory. Working memory allows manipulation of stored information, while
short-term memory refers only to the short-term storage of information.When we practice mental
arithmetic, we have to remember all the steps and the solution of each step in order to apply it to the
next step. We start with easier problems and work our way up to harder problems. Our working memory is
enhanced in the process.
Dr Abadzi, a cognitive scientist at University of Texas, argues that people are “basically prisoners to
their working memory”, which contains everything in their minds at any given moment. Working memory can
only hold a small amount of information and it lasts only a few seconds, so the information must pass
through it rapidly or it gets lost. Working memory can become a bottleneck in our brain function
- making even simple thought processes feel complex as we go forwards and backwards get to the answer.
But there is a way round the working memory bottleneck. Dr Adbrizi explains that when children practise
tasks like mental arithmetic, it becomes automatic and unconscious, freeing up space in the working
memory for more complex calculations. This means it's not enough simply to be able to work out a
calculation - what matters is getting it right and how fast you can recall the answer.
We can learn how mental arithmetic improves concentration and memory by understanding how the brain
works to solve arithmetic problems.
From the perspective of the left and right brain, mental arithmetic exercises stimulate both sides of
our brains at the same time. It helps to increase the connection between the two brain hemispheres,
especially in young students whose brains are still developing. When we solve math problems, the
calculation part is done on the left side of the brain, while the right side of the brain visualizes the
problem being solved. Both sides of the brain are trained to work simultaneously.
Parietal cortex is responsible for understanding the meaning of numbers. The ventrolateral prefrontal
cortex works with regions in the parietal cortex to blend out distractions, such as daydreaming about
going swimming with friends. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is needed to manipulate numbers, like
splitting up a large problem into The easier steps. Frontal gyrus has been found to play an important
role in ignoring similar but incorrect answers. The arithmetic process requires these parts to work
together, which requires our concentration.
The hippocampus and angular gyrus are involved in memory work for arithmetic. The hippocampus is located
deep in the brain. It plays an important role in storing arithmetic facts. The hippocampus is the
brain's "save" button. In mathematics, it works in tandem with the frontal cortex to help you store the
answers to arithmetic problems as arithmetic facts in your long-term memory. When you solve arithmetic
problems, the angular gyrus is involved in discovering these facts.
The most anterior brain sector – lobnopolyarny cortex, helps to predict the future based on past
experience. This is not entirely superpower, but our brains are able to make short-term predictions and
strategic thinking about the future, making the conclusion on the patterns of recent events. And if
train and make active use of neural connections of the brain from the childhood, even after dozens of
years, the brain does not lose the ability to think strategically, which greatly enhance its efficiency.
Simply put, mental arithmetic is not just mental arithmetic, but a training of brain cells. Thanks to
the development of fine motor skills, then its representation in the mind, incredibly develops powerful
connection between brain cells. And even if the child will not use practical mental account in future,
the result of learning has an impact on cognitive abilities in general.