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ANS-SteadyState: Neural markers of the Number Sense and their relationship to math ability at different stages of math development

Every human possesses an innate numerical intuition to represent and manipulate numerical quantities – the Number Sense. A large amount of studies investigated the nature of this Number Sense, and many authors are still striving to understand how this innate sensitivity to numerosities is related to more elaborate number knowledge that is learned at school, such as arithmetic.

Because recent findings about this association led to very mixed results, more experimental evidence on the interplay between the Number Sense and math ability throughout the lifespan is still needed. The current project aims at clarifying this issue by using a novel and innovative paradigm that is based on recording electrophysiological measures to assess the Number Sense. Specifically, we plan to adapt the Steady-State Visually Evoked Potentials (SSVEP) method to assess the Number Sense and highlight the cerebral activity related to number processing in a broad sample of participants, at different stages of math development. The SSVEP paradigm seems especially promising, because it allows robust data collection based on passive viewing of stimuli trains presented during very short sessions. We intend to design a global assessment that comprises several short numerical conditions, based on non-symbolic and symbolic numerosities, in order to record the neural markers of the Number Sense. Additionally, we will measure the relationship of these electrophysiological responses with arithmetic skills at different stages of math development, from entering arithmetic to its mastery. With this project, we hope to develop an innovative tool that would be helpful to understand how innate number abilities and learned arithmetic are associated throughout development. Moreover the paradigm we aim to develop would be an important first step towards the design of an objective, language-free, and cultural-free diagnostic tool to assess general numerical abilities throughout lifespan.

 

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Mathieu Guillaume.