DEC 26, 2020 4:00 PM PST

Math vs Language: Learning To Code

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Learning a computer program is very much like learning a new language. How so?

It involves training your eyes on new terminology and symbols. However, there are differences that greatly overshadow the similarities.

"Understanding computer code seems to be its own thing. It's not the same as language, and it's not the same as math and logic," says Anna Ivanova, an MIT graduate student and the lead author of the study.

 Scientists at MIT have found that reading computer code activates a region of the brain that are not in any way involved with language processing.  Instead, the region of the brain that it does activate—is called ‘multiple demand network’ which is recruited for complex cognitive tasks such as solving a difficult math problem.

"Here, we were interested in exploring the relationship between language and computer programming, partially because computer programming is such a new invention that we know that there couldn't be any hardwired mechanisms that make us good programmers," Ivanova says.

Learn more about diverse areas of our brain:

"It's possible that if you take people who are professional programmers, who have spent 30 or 40 years coding in a particular language, you may start seeing some specialization, or some crystallization of parts of the multiple demand system," says Evelina Fedorenko, the Frederick A. and Carole J. Middleton Career Development Associate Professor of Neuroscience and a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. "In people who are familiar with coding and can efficiently do these tasks, but have had relatively limited experience, it just doesn't seem like you see any specialization yet."

Findings appear in eLife and open the doors to how coding should be taught—from a new language perspective or math?

"There have been claims from both camps -- it has to be together with math, it has to be together with language," Ivanova says. "But it looks like computer science educators will have to develop their own approaches for teaching code most effectively."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
You May Also Like
NOV 20, 2020
Technology
'Motorized Sensors' for Disease Detection
NOV 20, 2020
'Motorized Sensors' for Disease Detection
What would likely increase the survival of a person with a deadly disease? Early detection—although depending on t ...
NOV 29, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Engineering 'Smart' Cells to Kill Cancer
NOV 29, 2020
Engineering 'Smart' Cells to Kill Cancer
Cancer researchers have long been searching for a way to target cancer cells while ignoring healthy cells. A team of sci ...
DEC 13, 2020
Technology
Can Robots Replace Therapy Dogs?
DEC 13, 2020
Can Robots Replace Therapy Dogs?
Could robots replace therapy dogs? A new study by researchers at the University of Portsmouth may indicate so. "Thi ...
JAN 27, 2021
Technology
Electric Car Revolution: Implementing Sufficient Charging Stations
JAN 27, 2021
Electric Car Revolution: Implementing Sufficient Charging Stations
Charging stations seem to be the main deterrent for people not to choose to drive an electric vehicle. Despite the vehic ...
MAR 12, 2021
Microbiology
Bacterial Proteins Form a Network to Attack Their Host Cell
MAR 12, 2021
Bacterial Proteins Form a Network to Attack Their Host Cell
Many bacteria that infect intestinal cells make and release bacterial proteins into their host in order to hijack cell f ...
APR 14, 2021
Technology
How Can Mario Kart Teach Us About Improving World Poverty?
APR 14, 2021
How Can Mario Kart Teach Us About Improving World Poverty?
Rushing down Rainbow Road and receiving power from the floating square icons on the screen, or even slipping on a banana ...
Loading Comments...