Science Illustrated - - BRAIN -

You have dif­fi­cul­ties telling the time, cal­cu­lat­ing the cost of your gro­ceries in the su­per­mar­ket, or tak­ing in the train timetable. Acal­cu­lia – in­abil­ity to learn, re­mem­ber, or even un­der­stand

numbers and math­e­mat­ics – makes ev­ery­day life quite dif­fi­cult. The con­di­tion af­fects about 6% of the pop­u­la­tion, and the cause is in the brain. Those peo­ple's cere­bral num­ber cen­tres are usu­ally rather small, as they in­clude fewer neu­rons.

In 2007, Alexis Le­maire of France set a world record, tak­ing only 70 sec­onds to cal­cu­late the 13th root of

a 200-digit num­ber – the num­ber that – mul­ti­plied by it­self 13 times – re­sults in the 200-digit num­ber. Like other peo­ple with ex­treme maths skills, Le­maire prob­a­bly has num­ber cen­tres that in­clude un­usu­ally high numbers of nerve cells. How­ever, he claims that with suf­fi­cient prac­tice, any­body can learn how to do it.

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