I was born in a small [sentimental montage deleted]. After graduating from Ute Meadows Elementary School with a focus in [download CV here]. I have not yet selected any hobbies or interests; current leading candidates are the internet and athletic competitions.
I am interested in the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying mathematical thinking. Math is a relatively recent human cultural invention – only a few thousand years old – and yet it forms the basis of our modern scientific world. Young children learn their native language seemingly effortlessly, but it typically takes years of formal schooling to learn even basic math skills like arithmetic and algebra: Why? Also puzzling, some children seem to have a knack for math and grasp even complicated math concepts with minimal instruction, while others can struggle with basic math skills their entire lives: Why?
In my research, I attempt to answer these questions from multiple levels at once. On the one hand I am interested in ‘lower-level’ perceptual and attentional processes responsible for the extraction and representation of basic numerical concepts. More recently, I have become strongly interested in how the brain changes as people acquire symbolic numbers (typically Indo-Arabic numerals, 0-9). In particular, I am trying to understand the crucial properties – such as relative order – that distinguish symbolic numbers from their approximate, perceptually grounded counterparts. My hunch is that understanding how the brain processes these properties will be key to unpacking the neural foundations of more complex math abilities. Approaching the problem from another level, I am working to understand how math-related processes interact with emotional and social factors like math anxiety, as well as ‘higher-level’ cognitive factors like working memory.
My hope is that these lines of research, taken together, will solve everything ever. Or, maybe we can understand how the brain learns math a little better. If we can, this might help with math education, or it might be useful some day in answering questions we don’t even know how to ask yet. I’m looking at you, future us.