Psychologists from the University of Chicago have figured out why solving complex math problems is so scary for some people: Their brains think math hurts, even before doing the work. "For someone who has math anxiety, the anticipation of doing math prompts a similar brain reaction as when they experience pain -- say, burning one's hand on a hot stove," said researcher Sian Beilock, who gave math problems to 28 adults and found those who were anxious experienced a threat response in the brain's posterior insula.

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