Why Learn Math Using The Abacus?

For centuries, Abacus Math has been empowering brains and cultivating geniuses.

Watch what our students can do with

Abacus Mental Math


Research & Case Study on the Abacus


The abacus has been the tool of choice for math calculation in Asian countries for hundreds of years. It has survived the test of time because it works. It works even more so as a tool that develops and enhances the brain. Believe it or not, it is faster than using a calculator and it changes the brain in ways that regular classrooms and instruction methods can only dream of.

While other students toil with tedious math calculations on paper, Abacus Brain Gym students are mentally calculating and finishing homework, tests, and assignments much earlier and with more accuracy. Not to mention reading skills improve as well. Abacus mental math training has the longest records of success for early math mastery that leads to a sustained positive attitude towards math and a greater level of self-confidence throughout life. It is also easy to learn, cost-effective, and research proves it enhances many different areas of the brain. Follow along with this case study as we walk you through the how and why of Abacus Mental Math Training.


Millions of children around the world are taking the abacus training today and here is why

A proven track record through history and recent neuro-scientific research have positively confirmed the effectiveness of the abacus training. Calculating on an abacus that utilizes a hands-on, kid- friendly, and multiple-intelligence approach has proven benefits to enhance the development of the human brain. The mental abacus method has a clear advantage to keep the mind vibrant and to ease the journey of learning while utilizing one's WHOLE BRAIN power.

Abacus instruction works because it is a unique combination of classic and contemporary methods, tools, and research. The goal of the program is to teach students how to mentally calculate while simultaneously enhancing and improving the brain.   

Abacus + Brain + Software + Great Instructor  =  HIGH SPEED MENTAL ABILITY 

The BRAIN is wired for challenge and can function as a SUPER COMPUTER.  Information travels across the nervous system at a speed of over 200 mph. How’s that for an information super highway? Yes, we are wired for very complex applications — just like a computer. Why not use that? Forget calculators. When the hands, both hemispheres of the brain, brain waves, auditory nerves, and memory are in synch, the brain is at its best. It is wired for success. Eureka! Repeating something over and over solidifies a pathway. Brain plasticity proves that parts used are parts engaged and expanded. As the abacus training synchronizes all of these traits, brain cells grow and areas expand. Science proves it.

Activating both sides of the brain through the abacus

Abacus Math training is extremely unique in that it is one of the very few exercises which stimulates and utilizes both sides of the brain to work together at the same time.

Your brain is divided into two hemispheres: the left brain and the right brain. The left brain is responsible for analytical and logical thinking. For most people, this is the only side of the brain that is utilized for calculating numbers and solving math problems. The right side of the brain is the creative and visual side, which has the capability to proccess information and make decisions quickly based off of your intuition and is also the side that is connected with your imagination!

Just like how you can close your eyes and imagine yourself relaxing on vacation at the beach, our students can imagine the abacus in their minds and manipulate the beads mentally in order to perform mental math. Through this imaginative process, these students are unknowingly activating their creative and intuitive right brain to work alongside their logical and sequential left brain in order to perform extremely impressive mental math!

The result? Well it turns out that when both hemispheres of the brain are in sync, the brain is at its best and operates EXTREMELY FAST. That is exactly why our students are able to perform mental math much faster than a calculator. That's the secret! Abacus mental math training is not only a math program. Abacus mental math training cleverly exercises and trains the brain to operate at peak efficiency and unlocks one's full brain power.

Hi-Speed Mental Math is just the beginning

Image Abacus is a method of mental calculation. It is performed on a virtual image of the abacus formed in the mind and is based on the principles of abacus calculation. In this case, the abacus is merely a tool, through regular practice of which, children are able to visualize and internalize the image of the abacus in their mind.

How fast can it be?

By activating both sides of the brain, all students can achieve calculation speeds previously only achievable by math geniuses. 

As a matter of fact, in Dec. 2000, a first-year student and his 2 sisters had broken 4 Guinness world records with this very same method of calculation.

Read the full story on the Taiwanese Government’s official website.

How does it benefit my children?

Image Abacus trains students to use and synchronize the left brain hemisphere (logical side) to manipulate the virtual abacus image created on the right brain hemisphere (abstract side). This unique exercise fosters and strengthens the brain function in the following areas:

     •     Improves mental calculation, which is the ultimate resource. 

     •     Provides a sense of achievement as one’s proficiency improves.

     •     Develops the right brain tremendously. 

     •     Leads to greater mental capacity

     •     Promotes intuitive thinking.

     •     Enhances problem solving capability.

     •     Greatly enhances creativity.

     •     Improves memory capacity.

     •     Improves concentration and mental endurance.

     •     Fosters one’s confidence in calculation. 

Left and right brain thinking

In short, image abacus training will help any child to retain knowledge better and become proficient in any subject, especially math.

Speed Hearing Calculation

Unlock the brain’s best potential

Studies have shown that reading and listening programs using advanced computer based technology stimulate brain cell development and enhance 19 brain functions, improving the basis point of one’s IQ by 5% to 25%.

Speed Hearing 

Speed hearing research was conducted by the US Army around 1956. Applying speed hearing as a training course for executives was pioneered by the Japanese in the late 1970’s. Our minds can be trained by overhelming the receptors. Neurologically this is called “use dependent plasticity”. The most common experience of this concept for most people is highway driving. After driving at highway speeds for 60- 90 minutes we will find that it is difficult to drive at city speeds. It is because once our brain get used to have information coming at a fast pace, it is actually hard to slow down! ABG applies the same principle by grooming students to listen and comprehend rapid voice interactions.

A Brain Exercise Like No Other 

By combining Image Abacus and Speed Listening training, we have created a brain exercise like no other. The intensive comprehension and calculation required to complete the task causes most of the actual information processing to be off-loaded to the right brain for faster processing. With regular training, students will gain unrestricted access to the right hemisphere of their brains. This is like once we learned how to ride a bike, we instinctively were able to balance ourselves on it without having to think about it every time.

High Volume and Higher Speed Communication Between Brain Cells

As we all know, regular weight training will produce more dense muscles for our body. The same is true for our brain. Regular Speed Listening training produces a much denser synapse network (a neural pathway with much more connection points between cells), capable of higher volume and higher speed of communication between brain cells.

Putting It All Together

To make this training possible, we employ custom developed computer aided training systems and speech synthesizers to accurately control the speed (words per minute), duration, and level of difficulty of each exercise. These training programs were designed basically on our own “Brain Wave Optimization” EEG biofeedback research. The result is an achievable, progressive program that will benefit each and every one of our students. We guarantee that each student will show improvements in focus and concentration, faster and more intuitive thinking, better memory, and of course, incredible and superior mental math capabilities.

Brain Wave Study

Biofeedback: The "Little" Breakthrough In Learning

Brain Wave Study

Our brain is an electrochemical organ. When working, different regions of the brain emit different frequencies called brain waves. Research found that brain wave patterns are directly related to our behaviors, capabilities, and performances after decades of measuring brain wave patterns of natural leaders, artists, scientists, and creative minds from all walks of life. The optimal pattern call “The Awakened Mind” was released in 1979 by British psychophysiologist and biophysicist C. Maxwell Cade.

Brain Wave Pattern of Peak Performance

Combines the following all at the same time: – the intuitive, empathic radar of the delta waves – the creative inspiration, personal insight, and spiritual awareness of theta waves – the bridging capacity of relaxed, detached, awareness of Alpha waves – the external attention and ability to consciously process thought of Beta waves. This brainwave pattern can be found during “peak experience” or “peak performance”, regardless of the content or intention, in all forms of task requiring creativity and high performance. It is not “which” frequency, but “how the frequencies combine”, that determines our optimum states of consciousness. 

The "Ah-Ha" Wave Pattern

The “Ah-ha!” experience — where we suddenly “get it,” gain an insight, or when a great idea suddenly comes to us — produces a brain wave pattern very similar to the “awakened mind” pattern. This pattern is characterized by the bursts of beta and alpha waves.

When an “ah-ha” experience occurs, an association has been created between the problem requiring resolution and the mass of unconscious learning that is available to the subject. It is possible to train the brain to generate the “ah-ha” pattern

The Super Learning State

The Super Learning State occurs when alpha and theta waves dominate. The Super Learning State, which shares some characteristics with the peak performance brain wave pattern, occurs when alpha and theta waves dominate. However, in the Super Learning State, the beta wave is reduced. The result is a unique state where the brain can accept a much larger volume of information than is normally possible. This occurs because the normal conscious filter of the mind is bypassed; instead, the knowledge is absorbed directly and in an unfiltered state.

The goal of the mental abacus training is to provide students with control over these brain wave patterns. This control will allow students to access the desirable brain wave pattern for the learning which is required. Employing the core “speed hearing” technique and progressing through a carefully designed series of graduated calculation exercises, students are trained to achieve the optimal state of mind for the task at hand.

The Abacus Brain Gym Method

The power of the mental abacus system consists of its manipulation of three key variables: difficulty of the task, task duration, and the speed at which the task must be accomplished. Manipulation of these variables requires sophisticated technology as does measurement of students’ response. Abacus Brain Gym is one of the very few institutions, and unique in North America, in its ability to provide the equipment, training program, and instructional support to guide your child through this system.  The outcome is that one goes far beyond the ability to perform fast calculation. The lasting effect is the student’s acquisition of a tool that will support all future learning experiences. 

Research on Abacus Training

The best skill any child would wish for

Solid math foundation is the key to opportunity

Evaluation of Memory in Abacus Learners. 

Published in Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Jul-Sep;50(3):225-33) Department of Physiology, Stanley Medical College and Hospital, Chennai 600 003.

Abacus is a method used by Chinese, Japanese and Koreans to improve mathematical skills. This system has now invaded our country. The improvement in mathematical skills is said to be due to a coordinated functioning of both right and left hemisphere. As learning and memory in any field is achieved by coordinating and analyzing the different sensory inputs, whether an abacus trainee would also improve the short-term memory as a whole was evaluated in our study. 50 children of average IQ between 5 and 12 years from 2 regular schools and 50 from an abacus institute were evaluated for short-term memory before and after a period of one and two years. The memory tests were taken from Wechsler memory scale, Mini mental state examination, Mann - Buitar visual memory screen for objects. The results showed that the abacus learners at the end of one and two years had a better visual and auditory memory when compared to non-abacus learners.

About skilled Abacus Users and the training of intelligence.

Mr. Lin and Mr. Haqits, professors in Osaka Education University, studied abacus users and found that abacus training can help to cultivate and to improve their intelligence. They wrote a thesis to the Journal of British Medical Science. Dr. Sinagwakane, professor of Japan Medical University, Mr. Kawano and Mr. Osisewbi also did some research and made a report to the 68th Conference of Japan Physiology Association in Kyoto.

A Dissertation Submitted for the Dr. Degree in Abacus Study

Associate professor of University of Chicago, Dr. James Stigler, wrote his Doctoral Dissertation about abacus study. He stayed in Taiwan for two years and did research to the students. He gave a test to the students before and after taking abacus lessons. Then he wrote a doctoral dissertation and received his PhD. His major is in Psychology in Human Behavior. Later, he wrote many theses, including the "Mental Abacus - The Effect of Abacus Training on Chinese Children's Mental Calculation".

Japanese ~ American Co-operative Study on the Effects on Abacus Education

Dr. Flanagan in University of Maryland and Dr. Biga, a professor in Liuqiu University cooperated to study the achievements of Japanese and American students in mathematics. The result shows that Japanese children's arithmetic scores are higher than American students; above all, abacus learners are top in every grade.

A Guide to the Experiment on the Effects of Abacus Education

American educators wanted to know why Americans tend to reject arithmetic. They introduced abacus to the classrooms. Children like to work with the abacus in a concrete way instead of an abstract way. They gradually changed to be fond of studying arithmetic.

Concentration Effects

Decker Avenue School in California did a research for CONCENTRATION after introducing abacus to the children. The study indicated a very good result.

The Particular Teaching Tool   

Children like to work with something concretely instead of sitting and listening to lectures. Abacus method is good for an active attitude toward learning, as pictured in Haslett's and Piaget's theories.

Author:  Mr. Kouzi Suzuki, President of English Mental Arithmetic Education Association of Japan

Useful Links

Soroban and the Right Brain  

Recent studies have shown that the abacus method of mental calculation is effective in the development of the right brain. At first, this idea was only a hypothesis, but the recent development of high-tech machinery has helped provide tangible research data. In this section, we will present information provided by researchers who study the effects of abacus training.

Evaluation of Memory in Abacus Learners  

Abacus is a method used by Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans to improve mathematical skills. This system has now invaded our country. The improvement in mathematical skills is said to be due to a coordinated functioning of both right and left hemisphere. As learning and memory in any field is achieved by coordinating and analyzing the different sensory inputs, whether an abacus trainee would also improve the short-term memory as a whole was evaluated in our study. 50 children of average IQ between 5 and 12 years from 2 regular schools and 50 from an abacus institute were evaluated for short-term memory before and after a period of one and two years. The memory tests were taken from Wechsler memory scale, Mini mental state examination, Mann – Buitar visual memory screen for objects. The results showed that the abacus learners at the end of one and two years had a better visual and auditory memory when compared to non-abacus learners.

Neural correlates underlying mental calculation in abacus experts: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.  

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we compared the neural correlates associated with three mental-operation tasks (numeral, spatial, verbal) among six experts in abacus operations and eight non-experts. In general, there was more involvement of neural correlates for visuospatial processing (e.g., right premotor and parietal areas) for abacus experts during the numeral mental-operation task.

Mental Math: Imaginary Abacus Calculates Strings of Numbers in Seconds

When 11-year-old Priyanshi Somani multiplies strings of 10-digit numbers or finds the square root of a six-digit number, she doesn’t use a calculator or even pencil and paper.

Taiwan Headlines: Kaohsiung Siblings Break Math World Records

A brother and his two sisters from Kaohsiung City shattered four Guinness World Records for arithmetic calculation Saturday, under the extemporaneous testing of Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh and other officials.

Mathematical Education: A Comparison between Japan and America

The mathematical education provided in the United States has proved to be inferior compared to that of other countries. Specifically the Japanese and other Asian educational systems produce more educated mathematics students than the United States. American children tend to score lower on standardized testing than Asian students do. Many studies have been done by research groups such as the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement showing the differences in teaching methods between the United States and Japan. The teaching styles and the cultural differences can account for the gap in performance.

A collection of useful links:

Mystery of the Bead: An Abacus Manual

Collection of all kinds of abaci with wonderful pictures and descriptions.

What’s the deal with the abacus? Why do so many Chinese people still use them, and how do you do calculations?

Kids Rank with Adults at Japan Abacus Championship

Introduce Your Child To Abacus Math Today!

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DISCLAIMER: Results and representations made by Abacus Brain Gym, LearnAbacusOnline.com, and their advertisers/sponsors (collectively, "Abacus Brain Gym") are aspirational statements only of you and your child's potential. The results on this page are based on those reported by the many parents we've worked with throughout the past 20 years. We can in NO way guarantee you will get similar results. Your results vary drastically on the discipline and commitment you put in as a parent to make sure your child continues learning the program and practices the homework lessons. All educational success entails consistent effort and practice. If you're not willing to accept that, this is not for you.
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