Q&A #1154

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Front End Estimation

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From: Harry Erwin, PhD

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2004110904:00:27
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 formed.)

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