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Brain and Behavior of Math Cognition in bilinguals. Implications for dyscalculia


"The extent to which mathematical representations and processing depend on language is a question of active debate. Some authors defend a key role of language in some mathematical operations, others posit a complete independence between these two domains. Bilingualism can help to elucidate this question due to the variety of number codes that a bilingual manages. Recently we have provided evidence on the importance of early learning in the nature of memory networks for arithmetic. We have demonstrated that the language of learning arithmetic is what establishes the strength and quality of these networks. Here we take these questions forward with three research objectives: 1) investigate whether the verbal code used by a bilingual has also an impact on the access to core number semantics, being the preferred code the language of learning math; 2) similarly, we explore whether the processing of a digit activates a verbal preferred code in a bilingual; 3) importantly, the third research objective extends all these questions to developmental dyscalculia. Based on our data we suggest that bilingualism can complicate this disorder and aim to provide empirical evidence on it. We will address these questions using a cognitive neuroscience approach, since the modeling of math in bilingualism is so far based just on behavioral data. We will combine behavioral, ERPs and fMRI to achieve our goals. The combination of these techniques will provide not only a late measure of performance (behavioral methods) but also high temporal resolution with information about underlying processes (ERPs) and high spatial resolution (fMRI) of brain areas activated when all these processes occur. Moreover, the project will complete the modifications we have been performing to the Encoding Complex model in bilinguals (Campbell and Epp, 2004) and we believe, will entail the more accurate and comprehensive study of the issue to date. Thus, the project has clear scientific and socio-educative impact."

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Paseo mikeletegi 69 2
20009 San sebastian

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Noreste País Vasco Gipuzkoa
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Ana Fernandez (Ms.)
EU contribution
No data