I saw this little blurb of an article in the Science section of the NY Times called "Children: Self-Control Presages Math Gains in Young". I thought it was interesting. From the article:
"Claire Cameron Ponitz, a research associate at the University of Virginia, led a group that tested 343 children with the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task, in which children perform the opposite of an oral command (for example, the correct response for “touch your toes” would be to touch your head). Higher scores, the researchers write in the May issue of Developmental Psychology, indicate a greater ability to control and direct one’s own behavior, an ability essential for success in the structured environment of a kindergarten class.Those with higher scores on the fall test generally reached higher scores in all areas in the spring, but showed significant gains compared with other children only in mathematics, not in literacy or vocabulary."
I thought the point of the research would be that kids who are able to hear one thing and do another (touch your toes, hearing; touch your head, doing) are not self-regulating but have some kind of ability to see differences in action in their head.
That it comes down to self-regulation, though, is important. It's not about being "good at math" but it may be the ability to concentrate and direct one's behavior. The fact that the gains were only in math seem to show that. You can only read an abstract so I don't know if these kids had preschool or what other factors may have created that ability.