Stanford Study Says MRI Scans Can Predict Outcome of Math Tutoring

Jessica Shugart, Mercury News, April 30, 2013

When it comes to math, MRIs may be better than IQs–and even past math scores–at showing whether a tutor can help a child master everything from trapezoids to trigonometry.

A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine says that the size and circuitry of certain parts of children’s brains are excellent predictors of how well they’ll respond to intensive math tutoring.

The researchers’ most surprising finding was that children’s IQ and math scores had no effect on tutoring outcomes, yet brain scan images “predicted how much a child would learn,” said Vinod Menon, a Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who was the study’s senior author.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Menon’s research team took MRI scans of 24 third-graders just before they underwent eight weeks of rigorous math tutoring. A control group of children also had their brains scanned, but they didn’t get any tutoring.

The kids who were tutored showed across-the-board gains in their arithmetic skills, with the levels of their improvement varying wildly–from 8 percent improvement up to 198 percent. The children in the control group showed no signs of improvement.

The researchers found that the kids who responded the best to tutoring tended to have a larger and more active hippocampus. Named after the Greek word for “seahorse,” the spirally hippocampus is known to play an important role in learning and memory. But its role in mastering specific skills–like math–hadn’t been explored until now.

Even more than its size, the hippocampus’s ability to get along with other parts of the brain was the biggest predictor of math success.

{snip}

Menon believes the tighter the connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex–a part of the brain that influences decision-making and behavior–the more rapid the retrieval of stored knowledge.

{snip}

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  • Denisovan

    “The researchers’ most surprising finding was that children’s IQ and math scores had
    no effect on tutoring outcomes …”

    Does being a proven mathematical genius have anything to do with math scores or tutoring outcomes? Apparently not. Something funny here.

    • libertarian 1234

      I agree.

      The radicals on the left create and manipulate studies to conform to pre-determined ideas and a lot of skewing needs to be done in order to twist things around.

      Just one example: The Flynn Effect in IQ studies.

      I’d have to learn a bit more about these claims before I could offer an opinion on the above, but something doesn’t ring right at this point.

    • me

      Funny, indeed! No correlation to IQ and brain size….just as there is no correlation to IQ and genetics. And no correlation to IQ and culture. You are entering the Wonderland logic of Marxist and ‘multicultural’ propaganda.

  • Bill

    Unh huh. And what determines the size of the hippocampus? Or don’t we want to go there………but I will. Genetics and RACE perhaps?

  • The__Bobster

    The researchers found that the kids who responded the best to tutoring tended to have a larger and more active hippocampus.
    ____________

    No mention of any racial component of this study?

    • Paleoconn

      None at all. Apparently the size and activity of the hippocampus is random across the population. No difference, on average between racial groups. None at all.

      Too bad Jensen and Rushton are no longer around. The only ones with the stones to refute such crackerjack ‘studies’ that go into contortions to avoid discussion of race and genetics.

  • bigone4u

    What happens when large numbers of youths are given a brain scan and it turns out that there are no black math geniuses? How will the Cultural Marxists explain that? That old “legacy of slavery” excuse is going to get beat up again.

    • Nick Gherz

      K = FC^2

  • Rhialto

    Note that this study is on the effect of tutoring in mathematics, not the ability to perform mathematics. Only students with low IQ’s and/or lacking motivation need tutoring for arthmetic. It could be that out of this subclass, a big friendly hippocampus is an important factor.

    What this study does not show is that IQ is not correlated to math ability in normal students.

  • e2734298

    Let me guess – hippocampus size varies by race?

  • JohnEngelman

    The only thing I am skeptical about in this study is that there is no relationship between IQ, as measured by an IQ test, and “a larger and more active hippocampus.” It is clear to me that the size and configuration of the brain influences academic aptitude, and that both vary between the races.

  • smells_just_like

    MRI scans will be used to force White teachers to work extra hours teaching unteachable blacks.

    Those extra hours are time spent away from their own White families where they should be strengthening sacred White privilege.

    We simply can’t do as much as we should for the White community when blacks are anywhere near, because either we are distracted by having to keep an eye out for the coming mayhem, or we are forced to “do more” for those who deserve nothing but more contempt.

    Diversity is a deadly weapon aimed at White privilege. You haven’t yet learned how to hate it enough.

    • LHathaway

      ‘white privilege’ is a word invented by ‘our enemies’. It serves no better purpose using the word than using the word ‘racism’?

      • smells_just_like

        Whites need to understand that the word White privilege is a great big target on us. If White privilege is real to our enemies, it needs to be real to us.

  • Robert Binion

    Would MRIs of brains at Huffington Post reveal tiny portraits of Sarah Palin?

  • IstvanIN

    Doesn’t the hippo-campus size also vary by sex explaining the difference in math ability between males and females? Oh, wait, when boys are better at something than girls it is sexism, when girls are better at something it is because they are better. When whites are better at something than blacks it is racism, when blacks are better than whites at something they are just plain better. I am getting so darn sick of all the hoops and hurdles to try and make us all the same when clearly we are not.

  • LHathaway

    they have a larger and more active hippocampus because they are loved. .

  • LHathaway

    “when boys are better at something than girls it is sexism, when girls are better at something it is because they are better. When whites are better at something than blacks it is racism, when blacks are better than whites at something they are just plain better”

    When boys are better. . this is a tragedy we should all be aware of and apologize for, and in fact take all steps necessary to change. When girls are better this is something to be celebrated and encouraged – lest one be considered insensitive.

  • guest

    I’ve never heard anyone say this but I’m sure that radiologists could tell a person’s IQ by looking at MRI scans right now. If there are any actual radiologists reading this (I’m not a doctor at all) I would love to know if this is true, but my guess:

    I assume you can distinguish black from white or Asian brains. I know you can see the overall volume of the brain and can probably see the size of individual features.

    I bet this is stuff that radiologists are aware of but never talk about.

    If I could somehow do it I would love to sponsor a research study to see if radiologists can, indeed, figure out brain IQ just by looking at MRIs.

  • dogbone

    Stanford is a joke. Don’t belief too much of what comes out of Stanford after 1965. Before that time Stanford was a top notch research facility.

    This is from wikipedia about Uri Geller the phony psychic – “In 1975, two scientists (Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff from the Stanford Research Institute) said they were convinced that Geller’s demonstrations were genuine”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_geller