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Language and calculation


A huge corpus of evidence shows that the format of the input and the answer code influence notably the latencies and error rates in calculation and other number manipulations.

Nevertheless, we still do not know where these effects locate: some authors propose they are restricted to the encoding stage, while others claim that numerical information is stored in different formats and the interaction between these and the input and output codes determines the final answer.

This project intends to shed light on this issue by investigating the role of verbal code in calculation. Our first objective consists in verifying its role in the storage of arithmetic facts. We will first investigate whether the code in which an arithmetical fact is learnt is the same in which it is subsequently stored. Provided we find evidence that multiplication and addition facts -which are learnt orally- are stored in a verbal format, we will try to specify the modality of these representations.

Our second aim will check whether bilinguals also have a verbal arithmeticon in their second language. Finally, the third objective will concern bilinguals and complex calculation. Bialystok has hypothesized an advantage of bilinguals on executive control processes, due to their experience of managing two languages. We will examine whether this advantage also manifests in mathematics.

Our work will use several experimental paradigms, most of them adapted from psycholinguistics. We will also manipulate the language of participants and the modality of presentation of our stimuli. When possible, we will try to complement these results with neuropsychological data.

This project will contribute to the objectives of FP6 by enhancing the knowledge both at theoretical (relationships between language, working memory and semantics) and practical (how optimizing the learning and use of arithmetic) levels. Moreover, we intend to build a network of collaborations that strengthens Europe's leadership in the area

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