Researchers have found similar patterns of brain activity in both boys and girls as they engage in basic math problems.
For the study, published in the journal Science of Learning, the research team from Carnegie Mellon University comprehensively examined the brain development of young boys and girls.
Through brain imaging, their research shows no gender difference in brain function or math ability.
“We see that children’s brains function similarly regardless of their gender. So hopefully we can recalibrate expectations of what children can achieve in mathematics,” said study researcher Jessica Cantlon from Carnegie Mellon University in the US.
For the findings, Cantlon and her team conducted the first neuroimaging study to evaluate biological gender differences in the math aptitude of young children.
Her team used functional MRI to measure the brain activity in 104 young children (3-to 10-years-old; 55 girls) while watching an educational video covering early math topics, like counting and addition.
The researchers compared scans from the boys and girls to evaluate brain similarity.
In addition, the team examined brain maturity by comparing the children’s scans to those taken from a group of adults (63 adults; 25 women), who watched the same math videos.
After numerous statistical comparisons, they found no difference in the brain development of girls and boys.
In addition, the researchers found no difference in how boys and girls processed math skills and were equally engaged while watching educational videos.
Finally, boys’ and girls’ brain maturity were statistically equivalent when compared to either men or women in the adult group.
The researchers also compared the results of the ‘Test of Early Mathematics Ability’, a standardized
test for 3- to 8-year-old children, from 97 participants (50 girls) to gauge the rate of math development.
They found that math ability was equivalent among the children and did not show a difference in gender or with age.