A positive attitude toward math boosts the brain’s memory center and predicts math performance independent of factors such as a child’s IQ, a Stanford study has found.

In a study of elementary school students, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that having a positive attitude about math was connected to better function of the hippocampus, an important memory center in the brain, during performance of arithmetic problems.

The findings were published online Jan. 24 in *Psychological Science*.

Educators have long observed higher math scores in children who show more interest in math and perceive themselves as being better at it. But it has not been clear if this attitude simply reflects other capacities, such as higher intelligence.

The new study found that, even once IQ and other confounding factors were accounted for, a positive attitude toward math still predicted which students had stronger math performance.

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