This study examines differences in concentration changes of hemoglobin in the brain while finding algebraic solutions
versus geometrical solutions. We use Near Infrared Spectroscopy imaging system to measure the hemoglobin changes
while subjects are solving algebraic task and geometrical task. NIRS imaging system can measure changes in the
concentration of hemoglobin. This brain activity data shows a difference between the two different experimental tasks
which helps us to identify the characteristics of thinking processes.
Over the past decade, the application of results from brain science research to education research has been a
controversial topic. A NIRS imaging system shows images of Hb parameters in the brain. Measurements using NIRS are
safe, easy and the equipment is portable, allowing subjects to tolerate longer research periods. The purpose of this
research is to examine the characteristics of Hb using NIRS at the moment of understanding. We measured Hb in the
prefrontal cortex of children while they were solving mathematical problems (tangram puzzles). As a result of the
experiment, we were able to classify the children into three groups based on their solution methods. Hb continually
increased in a group which could not develop a problem solving strategy for the tangram puzzles. Hb declined steadily
for a group which was able to develop a strategy for the tangram puzzles. Hb was steady for a certain group that had
already developed a strategy before solving the problems. Our experiments showed that the brain data from NIRS
enables the visualization of children's mathematical solution processes.
We discuss the possibility of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) application to the educational research. NIRS system
was used for prefrontal cortex measurement of children, when they were solving Mushi-kuizan problems. The Mushi-kuizan
task is one of the mathematical puzzles. Subjects were four children in fifth grade. Hemoglobin parameters such
as oxygenated hemoglobin and deoxygenated hemoglobin were calculated during Mushi-kuizan problems. The
parameters were compared with the performance data of each subject. Changes Hb parameters described how children
use their brain. NIRS evaluated the thinking process of mathematics task. It is very useful for mathematics teachers to
catch the children's thinking process dynamically because they can consider the way of teaching for each child. It was
shown that NIRS may be able to apply to education.