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Mental processes and interest in mathematics

  1. Nov 26, 2011 #1
    I could chalk up what I'm about to describe to you as me simply being an "evening person", but I'm interested in whether the following is a well known phenomenon, very common, and or simply trivial and unimportant.

    A bit of background info: I am between the ages of 15 and 20. I love math. I love doing nuanced math problems, I love reading about math, learning math etc. Whether it is modern algebra, analysis, topology, geometry, number theory etc. is usually irrelevant (there are a few exceptions i.e. point set topology w/o any motivation). I only started liking math around a year and a half ago (I was originally interested in physics, but I eventually got a lot more interested in mathematics). Before that I really didn't like math. I distinctly remember that I didn't even understand things like the formula to compute the slope of a line using two points on it.

    In the morning I almost always feel somewhat groggy and slow. I feel like I think slowly, think more shallowly, am able to process information less effectively, and cannot work things out all that well. I can barely feel my pulse (as measured at the side of my head). However, in the afternoon (past 4 pm), especially while doing mathematics, I not only feel as though I am able to think much more effectively, I also feel a surge of motivation, and can work for hours on end without noticing the time go by. Math in the afternoon seems to induce a good feeling overall, almost like a drug. In addition, the pulse in the side of my head also feels much stronger. This same feeling can be induced by chewing gum, to a certain extent.

    The phenomenon described above started just a little bit after I started to really like math. Before that I have no recollection of anything like this ever happening. I acknowledge that it is wholly possible that there is no connection at all between the two events (starting to like math and the various physical and mental symptoms I described). However, I would like this forum's input! Has anyone had experience with similar occurrences? Is it all in my head? I am truly curious.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2011 #2


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    I'm not a morning person either. I don't get going mentally until late afternoon, my most brilliant work is most often after midnight. A lot of people are like this.
  4. Nov 26, 2011 #3
    Don't think I've ever come across someone introducing themselves, and stating their age that way.
  5. Nov 26, 2011 #4
    My guess is that you might not be getting enough sleep. I find that I feel most refreshed when I get at least 7 to 8 hours plus a certain period of laying in bed just musing about various topics, contemplating the day's activities, that sort of thing.

    Or, you could be some sort of weird math genious. In which case you might as well just flow with it. I don't understand the connection with chewing gum.

    Anyway, avoid 'superstitious' connections/'correlations'. Do some science.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  6. Nov 26, 2011 #5
    I think this might have to do with your diet (as revealed by you in another thread). Ok, I'm sort of kidding -- but not really. I'm a morning and a night person, and most times in between, and I attribute this primarily to eating lots of good (relatively expensive) food (as well as getting sufficient rest/sleep, exercising regularly, and drinking lots of water).
  7. Nov 26, 2011 #6
    Nor have I. Curious, but at least the OP narrowed it down a bit. Hard to say if this might be a budding genious or just another person in need of some attention.
  8. Nov 26, 2011 #7


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    I've been this way since kindergarten, they had to place me in the afternoon class because if you wake me up before I'm ready to wake up, I'll vomit. I still do to this day. School was a night mare because of having to get up. I wmoied almost every morning.

    And I have a healthy diet.
  9. Nov 27, 2011 #8
    This is a condition quite foreign to my experience and understanding. But have you tried eating stuff that you really like (perhaps expensive) whenever you feel like eating it? And, sorry but I seem to have lost track of the OP.
  10. Nov 27, 2011 #9
    I'm a night person. I like to work at night and I function best at night. Mornings make me feel confused and drowsy. I don't like them...
  11. Nov 27, 2011 #10
    I'm between 14 and 62 and I have the same problem. In fact it usually takes me til Wednesday to get revved up. But once I have sat for about 3 hours and really delved into a physics text, I find that the next 3 hours are particularly fruitful. That's when the logjams clear and I understand things that evaded me before.
  12. Nov 27, 2011 #11
    interesting. i distinctly remember having morning nausea as a teenager. so, i would usually skip breakfast. and evenings have always been when my brain comes alive.

    and i suspect the OP's age-related math love may be hormone-related, but discussing it might not be received well here. so maybe just try digging around in pub-med, google scholar, or something...

    also, brains are maturing up until at least age 25 or so, so abilities, even motivations, will be evolving still.
  13. Nov 27, 2011 #12
    I am completely worthless in the afternoon and most productive early in the morning or late at night. (Age 23)
  14. Nov 27, 2011 #13


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    First off, we can't diagnose here, but have you asked your doctor about this? I think it's worth getting a medical opinion. Any number of (often fixable) things can cause lethargy.
  15. Nov 30, 2011 #14
    I think he has an Affective Inversion Disorder*: thinking about math is supposed to cause lethargy, not cure it.

    * A disorder I invented just now.
  16. Nov 30, 2011 #15


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    I do all my serious research in the evening. I execute my plans in the morning, following my instructions like a mindless zombie.
  17. Nov 30, 2011 #16
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