Have you ever noticed children secretly counting on their fingers?
If so, tell them they can pull their hands from beneath the table. Although many people discourage finger counting for fear it impedes learning, it appears the opposite is true.
Recent research shows that finger perception—the ability to distinguish, name, or recognize the fingers—is correlated with math skill, and even when people aren’t manually ticking off numbers, areas of the brain associated with fingers are still activated.
You may not be counting on your fingers, but your brain is.
To see how the mind works while performing arithmetic, Ilaria Berteletti,an educational neuroscientist at Gallaudet University, and a research partner scanned the brains of 39 children ages 8 to 13 while they mentally subtracted and multiplied single-digit numbers.