Mathematical Brain
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Naze sugaku ga tokui na hito to nigate na hito ga 
(Why are some people good, but others bad at maths?)

Mathematical Brain
Brian Butterworth
British Association
Borneo Bulletin
One in 20 kids has aversion to maths

Borneo Bulletin: 12th September, 2003.

A British scientist has come up with a new term to describe children with an aversion to mathematics, claiming that "dyscalculia" - the arithmetic equivalent of dyslexia - affects one in 20 schoolchildren.

According to reports in Thursday's press, Brian Butterworth of University College London told the British Association science festival at Salford in Greater Manchester that, while most people could recognise three or four objects without needing to count, dyscalculics could not.

Advocating special treatment for those afflicted, Butterworth said they had trouble manipulating all numbers.

"Our big success this year has been to get the government to recognise dyscalculia," he said.

"These kids find it difficult to count. They think that three plus one is five. They might learn it by rote, but they do not understand why it isn't five," Butterworth told the gathering of prestigious scientists on Wednesday.

"They are misdiagnosed by their teachers as stupid, they are misdiagnosed by their parents as stupid, they think of themselves as stupid, other kids think they are stupid and the daily maths lesson is a daily humiliation for them," he added.

These children could be competent in other ways, while afflicted by "number blindness", the professor said.

"We have done focus group studies with nine-year-old kids with this condition and I found what they said heartbreaking, they feel so bad about it.

"If we can find a simple way of diagnosing this, and alerting teachers and parents and kids themselves to the problem, we can say it is just like colour blindness, it doesn't show you are stupid."

Butterworth told the conference tests with 18,000 people showed that women were quicker at recognising numbers up to three than men were.


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