A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains that the areas of the brain used to do math are different than those involved in equally complex non-mathematical thought.
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 15 professional mathematicians and 15 people of the same academic level, but who were not mathematicians. In contrast to the second group, the first group had a brain circuit that was active that is generally not related to areas involved in processing language and semantics.
The analysis explains, however, that “We still don’t know if becoming a math expert changes the way we do arithmetics or if learning arithmetics sets the foundation for acquiring advanced math concepts.”
Keep in mind
A study by a cognitive neuroscientist from the University of Western Ontario, Daniel Ansari, found that mathematicians experience lower activity in the visual areas of the brain involved in facial processing. This seems to indicate that the neural resources used to understand and work with certain mathematical concepts take away from other brain functions.