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Math Ability: It's Genetic

We accept that some people are born with a talent for music or art or athletics. But what about mathematics? Prime numbers (numbers that cannot be divided by anything other than one or themselves) are all around us, hidden everywhere in nature, and some people sense this more than others.

When it comes to school, math is the class that many people get their worst grades in. Do some of us just arrive in the world with better math skills than others? It seems we do, according to psychologist Melissa Libertus, who has learned that math ability in preschool children is strongly linked to their inborn and primitive "number sense." It turns out that this is basic to all animals, not just human beings.

For instance, creatures that hunt or gather food use it to ascertain where they can find and procure the most nuts, plants or game and to keep track of the food they hunt or gather. We humans use it daily to allow us, at a glance, to estimate the number of open seats in a movie theater or the number of people in a crowded meeting. And it is measurable, even in newborn infants.

Still in question is the link between number sense and math ability. Do children born with better number sense have an easier time learning to count and to understand the symbolic nature of numbers? Or it is just that children born with less accurate number sense may end up avoiding math-related activities before they develop competency? Libertus wants to know "whether we can train a child’s number sense with an eye to improving his future math ability."

Whitley received incredible information from the Master of the Key, when he burst into his Toronto hotel room in 1998 and told him incredible things like, "There is a science of the soul." The new, revised edition of They Key is now available in bookstores everywhere as well as in the Whitley Strieber Collection, where it comes with an autographed bookplate!



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