Q&A #1154

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Front End Estimation

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From: Harry Erwin, PhD

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2004110905:00:27
Subject: Re: Front end estimation

Estimation and exact calculation are performed by different parts of
the brain. See Sohn et al., 2004, "Behavioral equivalence, but not
neural equivalence--neural evidence of alternative strategies in
mathematical thinking," Nature Neuroscience, 7(11):1193-1194, November
2004. The prefrontal cortex is activated more strongly when exact
calculation is required, while the parietal cortex activates more
strongly for approximation. This implies the skills should be taught
separately at age-appropriate times. (Age appropriateness here is
early enough to contribute positively to the development of the
area--not so late that the skills are hard to learn due to loss of
plasticity, but not so early that the neural circuits haven't yet

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