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NumDysERP: Dyscalculia in young children: investigating a complex pattern of disabilities

Neuro-imaging techniques providing high spatial and temporal resolution (fMRI and ERP), as well as computer assisted testing to better characterize the relation between visuospatial and numerical processes are used in this project. Both adults and children are tested using these methodologies, in order to describe these processes and their relation, characterize their development and help understanding their impairments (as observed in dyscalculia).

It is known that numerical cues can orient visuo-spatial attention at the behavioral level, but neuro-imaging studies on this topic are very sparse. We record ERPs, while applying the paradigm developed by Fischer et al. (2003) to test which cognitive components (e.g., P1, N1, P300) affect the numerically induced attention shift. We also perform fMRI to describe the spatial distribution of the above attentional modulation. With both methods healthy adults are tested to understand the basic mechanisms and determine the optimal experimental conditions. Later the experimental designs will also be applied to a population of healthy children. With computer assisted testing a battery of numerical and working memory tests is administered to a large population of preschool children and we follow these children longitudinally to first grade to assess the general skill level at this age and reveal its evolution at this early learning stage.

The combined use of the different approaches should allow us to understand how numerical representations rely on spatial representations in adults and also how this association is constructed across the development stages. In the midterm these theoretical insights will be
invaluable for developing school curricula, as well as for diagnostic and intervention tools for specific learning disabilities such as Dsycalculia.

For further information or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Sandrine Mejias Vanslype or Christine Schiltz