We’ve all seen those memes floating around on social media proclaiming that because chocolate is made from cocoa beans, it’s actually a salad. We love chocolate, so we tend to agree! LOL.

In that quirky vein, we have been doing some more homework on the huge benefits of using the abacus, and we have come to the same conclusion: like a salad, which is good for you because it contains water and vegetables and anti-oxidants and all those nice things, the abacus is really good for your brain.

But don’t take our word for it: there is much empirical evidence on the benefits of using the abacus, which has been well documented academically. We refer specifically to the considerable amount of information that has come directly out of Japan – and although Japan was not the first country to use the abacus, the soroban (which you will remember is the Japanese word for abacus) has become synonymous with Japan.

Here is some of what we found out:

  • A paper presented by Professor Shizuko Amaiwa of the Faculty of Education at Shinshu University has highlighted research into the ripple effects of abacus learning

    • The abacus has been conclusively shown to improve both mental calculations and those done on the abacus

    • It also improves:

      • Numerical memory

      • Spatial arrangement memory

      • Progress in solving general mathematical problems around the four fundamental arithmetic calculations

      • Word problems

  • Similarly, Dr Toshio Hayashi at Osaka Prefecture University has also done research on the connection between the abacus and the brain

    • The neocortex, which can create nerve cells, becomes highly effective at growing those cells when it receives appropriate stimuli

    • One of the most effective forms of stimulus is training in and use of the abacus

  • Research was conducted by Sashi Tanaka et al. on the effect of the abacus in restoring the brain to proper functioning in the event of a head trauma

    • A woman who was a skilled user of the abacus initially lost all of her skills due to brain damage resulting from the effects of a stroke

    • However, after monitoring her at 6 and 13 months later, in the recovery phase, it was found that she was able to recover many of her skills

    • This has been attributed to her exposure to the abacus at an earlier stage, indicating, and we quote, “the superior arithmetic ability of abacus users”

  • Tiara Swinson, writing on the science behind the abacus, explains that, “Abacus-based learning and abacus students have a staggering advantage over traditional learning and non-abacus students. Their test scores are higher, their confidence is greater, and their opportunities in school and life outweigh their peers.” She goes on to list the benefits of the abacus as follows:

    • A higher sense of spatial reasoning

    • Highly developed long-term memory

    • Easily accessed short-term memory

    • Critical thinking skills

    • Independence

Over and above this scientific data, we know from our own experience with our kids how powerful the abacus is:

  • The children who engage with us through Abacus Maths are some of the top minds academically in their respective schools

  • We have seen how these youngsters go on to become thought leaders in their various fields

Therefore, we can honestly say that we have complete faith in the soroban system, and we would have no problem recommending it as a significant enhancer of human higher brain functioning.

The three original founders of Abacus Maths – Sharné Bresler and her sister Quinnette Brits, and Sharné’s husband Beyers – were all qualified school teachers, with a deep-rooted interest in helping kids to steer through the muddy waters not only of school education, but also life. For although not enough research has been done yet in this field, we strongly believe that use of the abacus also helps to give kids better coping skills, so that they can make their way through life with higher levels of EQ, not just IQ.

Next month, we’ll be doing a comparison: the abacus vs fish – which one is better for your brain? It should be a close contest!