I am a PhD student in Developmental Psychology at The University of Western Ontario. I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology, also at Western University, where in my fourth year I became interested in the development of numerical skills while working in the Numerical Cognition Laboratory.
I am interested in how numerical symbols (i.e., Arabic digits) are represented in the human brain, both across development and in adults. More specifically, my research looks at the relationship between cardinal and ordinal processing of number symbols, and how this relates to individual differences in more complex mathematics.
My research is also focused on the numerical skills of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Although cerebral palsy is primarily a motor disorder, children affected by it often experience issues with numerical processing. I develop cognitive profiles for these children and use structural and functional imaging techniques to examine the extent to which individual differences in white matter integrity and neural activation is associated with performance on cognitive tasks.
I am a first year PhD student in the Numerical Cognition Lab. I am both a qualified teacher as well as an experienced researcher in the area of mathematics learning and education. In my previous position as a researcher at the University of Toronto, I worked closely with Drs. Joan Moss, Bev Caswell, and Cathy Bruce designing, implementing, and evaluating early years mathematics curricula. Much of this work has influenced educational policy and initiatives of the Ontario Ministry of Education.
As a member of the Numerical Cognition Lab, I am interested in understanding the basic cognitive and neural underpinnings of mathematical thinking. More specifically, my research program will aim to better understand the mechanisms linking numerical and spatial cognition. Why is that people who demonstrate strong spatial skills, such as the ability to imagine the movement of objects in space, generally perform better in mathematics? What role does spatial thinking play, if any, in the representation of numerical magnitudes? Moreover, how might we use knowledge on numerical and spatial cognition to inform the design of effective educational interventions? To best address these and other related questions, I will look to combine knowledge and methodologies from psychology, neuroscience, and education.
Like other members of the lab, I am committed to the growing discipline of Mind, Brain, and Education. I am interested in questions that deal with how to use and apply findings from neuroscience and psychology to inform educational practice, but also how to utilize the knowledge of educators to inform science. Insofar as the goal is to build the most optimal learning environments for children, I see collaboration and knowledge exchange between teachers, psychologists, and neuroscientists as critical.
My research focuses on identifying early predictors and potential risk factors for mathematics learning in young children.
I started out in the Numerical Cognition Lab as a volunteer research assistant in 2008 and am thrilled to be working here again. I completed my doctorate and continue to collaborate with Prof Gaia Scerif at the University of Oxford investigating relationships between attention and numeracy in early childhood. I am particularly interested in preschoolers for both theoretical and applied reasons. First, it is during this period in development that humans acquire symbolic representations of number, and this acquisition process is not yet well understood. Second, surprisingly little is known or regulated about mathematics learning in early years in the UK or Canada, therefore this is an area with great potential for impact on policy. Additionally, preschoolers are a fun age group to work with!
I hope to contribute to the emerging field of educational neuroscience through my current and future research with the eventual aim of better understanding learning and teaching.
“High cognitive functions” such as the ability to inhibit responses, delay gratifications and perform mathematical calculations, are thought to be processed by recently-developed cortical areas such as the prefrontal cortex and the parietal lobe. However, such abilities are important to the survival of many species, even those lacking a fully-developed cortex, such as bees and fish. Studying “high cognitive functions” in these animals can shed light on the evolutionary substrate of cognitive abilities. During my PhD in Ben-Gurion University in Israel, I studied the origins of such abilities using the Archer Fish as an animal model.
My current study focuses on the fundamental building blocks that allow us to understand mathematics. I argue that the basic building block is not a sense for number, but a sense for magnitudes; the ability to discriminate densities, area, etc. This ability, exist not only in humans but across species. By applying behavioral and neuroimaging techniques, I am testing the hypothesis that understanding the natural correlation between numerosity and continuous properties (e.g., more toys takes more space in the toy box) is a critical stage towards developing an appropriate math ability, and that inability to understand this correlation might lead to a learning disability specific to mathematics (developmental dyscalculia).
I am also interested in finding the molecular mechanisms underlying numerical cognition, by integrating behavioral, neuroimaging and genetic-analysis techniques.
I am a Masters student in the Numerical Cognition Lab. I completed my B.Sc in Psychology also at UWO. During my B.Sc. in Psychology, I was privileged to gain research experience on training early numeracy skills
in preschool children under the supervision of Daniel Ansari.
One of my major research interests is the similarities and differences in the way that humans process symbolic and nonsymbolic numbers and how this changes across development. During my Masters degree, I used a neuroimaging meta-analytic tool (Activation Likelihood Estimation) to examine how different kinds of non-numerical magnitudes such as physical size interact with both symbolic and nonsymbolic number representations in adults. During my PhD, I am using additional behavioural and neuroimaging methodologies to further examine how symbolic and nonsymbolic numbers are represented in the human brain. Specifically, I am exploring how symbolic and nonsymbolic number representations overlap with non-numerical magnitudes and how all of these representations change across development. I am also interested in the role that math anxiety plays in processing basic numerical stimuli.
I have the great privilege to work with all the brilliant people in this laboratory on questions such as: "How are number represented in our brains?", "How does the brain change with learning and development?" and "How can we use what we are learning about the basic mechanisms underlying our numerical abilities to inform education?". I have been working on these problems together with amazing students (at both the undergraduate and graduate levels) as well as post-docs for the past decade. We adopt a 'Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience' approach in our research program. By doing so, our lab seeks to understand more about how children learn about numbers using both behavioural and brain-imaging methods. We are committed to making contributions to basic knowledge as well as finding ways to translate what we learn in the laboratory into the classroom. In this way, we are committed to the emerging fields of 'Mind, Brain and Education' and 'Educational Neuroscience'.
I have been extremely fortunate to have spent the last 7 years working behind the scenes with an amazing research team that keeps me young(er) and on-my-toes! I have been involved in the development of study procedures, particularly the preparation of child participants for neuroimaging experiments, preparation of research ethics applications, data management, teaching of standardized testing procedures, administration of laboratory finances and proofreading of manuscripts and grant applications. On occasion, I have been known to step in when needed for recruitment and testing of participants. Every day brings something different and one of the highlights of my time spent in the lab is watching the students develop into strong, accomplished researchers.