Success at math is often more about focusing attention and screening distractions (caused by threat and anxiety) ..than it is about activating areas of the brain actually involved with math calculation. Sian Beilock (University of Chicago) reports:
“We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to separate anticipatory neural activity from what’s occurring while performing math. Increased activity in frontoparietal regions of the cortex, involved with focusing attention and suppressing anxiety, were better predictors of math scores than activity in regions associated with arithmetic calculation (the left intraparietal sulcus of the cortex) [link].”
Think about walking across a suspension bridge if you're afraid of heights versus if you're not – it’s a completely different ballgame. This work suggests that educational intervention emphasizing anxiety-reduction (rather than additional math training) will be most effective in revealing a population of mathematically competent individuals, who might otherwise go undiscovered.