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See detailLEARN Newsletter - Édition 2018
Georges, Carrie UL; Hoffmann, Danielle UL; Hornung, Caroline UL et al

Book published by LEARN (2018)

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See detailA rapid, objective and implicit measure of visual quantity discrimination
Guillaume, Mathieu UL; Mejias Vanslype, Sandrine UL; Rossion, Bruno et al

in Neuropsychologia (2018), 111

There is evidence that accurate and rapid judgments of visual quantities form an essential component of human mathematical ability. However, explicit behavioural discrimination measures of visual ... [more ▼]

There is evidence that accurate and rapid judgments of visual quantities form an essential component of human mathematical ability. However, explicit behavioural discrimination measures of visual quantities are readily contaminated both by variations in low-level physical parameters and higher order cognitive factors, while implicit measures often lack objectivity and sensitivity at the individual participant level. Here, with electrophysiological frequency tagging, we show discrimination differences between briefly presented visual quantities as low as a ratio of 1.4 (i.e., 14 vs. 10 elements). From this threshold, the neural discrimination response increases with parametrically increasing differences in ratio between visual quantities. Inter-individual variability in magnitude of the EEG response at this population threshold ratio predicts behavioural performance at an independent number comparison task. Overall, these findings indicate that visual quantities are perceptually discriminated automatically and rapidly (i.e., at a glance) within the occipital cortex. Given its high sensitivity, this paradigm could provide an implicit diagnostic neural marker of this process suitable for a wide range of fundamental and clinical applications. [less ▲]

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See detailLEARN Newsletter - Editioun 2018
Georges, Carrie UL; Hoffmann, Danielle UL; Hornung, Caroline UL et al

Book published by LEARN (2018)

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See detailVisuo-spatial abilities are key for young children’s verbal number skills
Cornu, Véronique UL; Schiltz, Christine UL; Martin, Romain UL et al

in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (2018), 166C

Children’s development of verbal number skills (i.e, counting abilities and knowledge of the number names) presents a milestone in mathematical development. Different factors such as visuo-spatial and ... [more ▼]

Children’s development of verbal number skills (i.e, counting abilities and knowledge of the number names) presents a milestone in mathematical development. Different factors such as visuo-spatial and verbal abilities have been discussed to contribute to the development of these foundational skills. To understand the cognitive nature of verbal number skills in young children, the present study assessed the relation of preschoolers’ verbal and visuo-spatial abilities to their verbal number skills. In total, 141 children aged between five and six years participated in the present study. Verbal number skills were regressed on vocabulary, phonological awareness and visuo-spatial abilities, as well as verbal and visuo-spatial working memory in a structural equation model. Only visuo-spatial abilities emerged as a significant predictor of verbal number skills in the estimated model. Our results suggest that visuo-spatial abilities contribute to a larger extent to children’s verbal number skills than verbal abilities. From a theoretical point of view, these results suggest a visuo-spatial, rather than a verbal, grounding of verbal number skills. These results are potentially informative for the conception of early mathematics assessments and interventions. [less ▲]

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See detailProject NUMTEST: Assessing basic number competence without language
Greisen, Max UL; Hornung, Caroline; Martin, Romain UL et al

Poster (2017, September 08)

While numerical skills are fundamental in modern societies, some estimated 5-7% of children suffer from a mathematical learning disorder, called developmental dyscalculia (DD). Nevertheless, universally ... [more ▼]

While numerical skills are fundamental in modern societies, some estimated 5-7% of children suffer from a mathematical learning disorder, called developmental dyscalculia (DD). Nevertheless, universally valid diagnostic instruments are still lacking, as all current DD test batteries are based on language instructions. Consequently, their measurements are tightly linked to the specific language context of test administration and thus their results cannot easily be compared across countries. Here we are showing results of the first two pilot studies of a research project that aims to develop a test for basic math abilities that does not rely on language instruction and minimizes language use. To this aim, video and animation based instructions were implemented on touchscreen devices. A first version of the tasks has been tested with two samples of first grade children in Luxembourg’s fundamental schools, of which half completed the same tasks with traditional verbal instructions. Our results indicate that performance in the experimental group was similar or better than the control group using verbal instructions. Relationships between linguistic background and the sample’s performance on one hand and qualitative usability aspects of nonverbal task instruction and tablet-pc use with young children will be discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailThe relevance of verbal and visuo-spatial abilities for verbal number skills – what matters in 5 to 6 year olds?
Cornu, Véronique UL; Schiltz, Christine UL; Martin, Romain UL et al

Poster (2017, September)

The acquisition of verbal number skills, as defined by the meaningful use of number words, marks a milestone in numerical development. In the present study, we were particularly interested in the question ... [more ▼]

The acquisition of verbal number skills, as defined by the meaningful use of number words, marks a milestone in numerical development. In the present study, we were particularly interested in the question, whether verbal number skills are primarily verbal in nature, or if they call upon visuo-spatial processes, reflecting a spatial grounding of verbal number skills. 141 five- to six-year old children were tested on a range of verbal (i.e. vocabulary, phonological awareness and verbal working memory) and visuo-spatial abilities (i.e. spatial perception, visuo-motor integration and visuo-spatial working memory). We were particularly interested in the predictive role of these abilities for children’s verbal number skills (as measured by different counting and number naming tasks). In a latent regression model, basic visuo-spatial abilities, measured by spatial perception and visuo-motor integration, emerge as the most important predictor of verbal number skills. This gives raise to the assumption, that verbal number skills are, despite their verbal nature, spatially grounded in young children. [less ▲]

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See detailProject NUMTEST: Assessing basic number competence without language
Greisen, Max UL; Hornung, Caroline UL; Martin, Romain UL et al

Poster (2017, May 31)

While numerical skills are fundamental in modern societies, some estimated 5-7% of children suffer from a mathematical learning disorder, called developmental dyscalculia (DD). Nevertheless, universally ... [more ▼]

While numerical skills are fundamental in modern societies, some estimated 5-7% of children suffer from a mathematical learning disorder, called developmental dyscalculia (DD). Nevertheless, universally valid diagnostic instruments are still lacking, as all current DD test batteries are based on language instructions. Consequently, their measurements are tightly linked to the specific language context of test administration and thus their results cannot easily be compared across countries. Here we are showing results of the first pilot study of a research project that aims to develop a test for basic math abilities that does not rely on language instruction and minimizes language use. To this aim, video and animation based instructions were implemented on touchscreen devices. A first version of the tasks has been tested with two samples of first grade children in Luxembourg’s fundamental schools, of which half completed the same tasks with traditional verbal instructions. Our results indicate that performance in the experimental group was similar or better than the control group using verbal instructions. Relationships between linguistic background and the sample’s performance on one hand and qualitative usability aspects of nonverbal task instruction and tablet-pc use with young children will be discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailMathematical abilities in elementary school: Do they relate to number–space associations?
Georges, Carrie UL; Hoffmann, Danielle UL; Schiltz, Christine UL

in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (2017)

Considering the importance of mathematics in Western societies, it is crucial to understand the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of more complex mathematical skills. The current study ... [more ▼]

Considering the importance of mathematics in Western societies, it is crucial to understand the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of more complex mathematical skills. The current study, therefore, investigated how the quality of number–space mappings on the mental number line, as indexed by the parity SNARC (spatial–numerical association of response codes) effect, relates to mathematical performances in third- and fourth-grade elementary school children. Mathematical competencies were determined using the “Heidelberger Rechentest,” a standardized German math test assessing both arithmetical and visuospatial math components. Stronger parity SNARC effects significantly related to better arithmetical but not visuospatial math abilities, albeit only in the relatively younger children. These findings highlight the importance of spatial–numerical interactions for arithmetical (as opposed to visuospatial) math skills at the fairly early stages of mathematical development. Differential relations might be explained by the reliance on problem-solving strategies involving number–space mappings only for arithmetic tasks mainly in younger children. [less ▲]

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See detailTraining early visuo-spatial abilities: A controlled classroom-based intervention study.
Cornu, Véronique UL; Schiltz, Christine UL; Pazouki, Tahereh UL et al

in Applied Developmental Science (2017)

Visuo-spatial training can be considered as a promising approach to provide young children with a sound foundation for later mathematical learning. We developed and implemented a tablet-based visuo ... [more ▼]

Visuo-spatial training can be considered as a promising approach to provide young children with a sound foundation for later mathematical learning. We developed and implemented a tablet-based visuo-spatial intervention in kindergarten classrooms aiming to foster the development of children’s visuo-spatial and numerical abilities. A sample of N = 125 children participated in the present study, 68 children were part of the intervention group and participated in 20 training sessions of 20 minutes over a 10-week period, 57 children formed a business as usual control group. Results show that, at this young age, visuo-spatial and early math skills are already strongly interlinked. However, the training effects were domain-specific as they only improved visuo-spatial skills, but did not transfer to early math performance in the present setting. [less ▲]

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See detailAre parity and magnitude status of Arabic digits processed automatically? An EEG study using the fast periodic visual stimulation
Poncin, Alexandre UL; Van Rinsveld, Amandine; Guillaume, Mathieu UL et al

Presentation (2017, February 22)

Many studies have shown that humans can easily extract numerical characteristics of single digits such as numerical magnitude and parity status. We investigated whether spontaneous processing of magnitude ... [more ▼]

Many studies have shown that humans can easily extract numerical characteristics of single digits such as numerical magnitude and parity status. We investigated whether spontaneous processing of magnitude or parity status can be observed when participants are passively presented with sequences of briefly displayed Arabic digits. We assessed the parity processing by presenting seven odd digit numbers followed by one even digit (and reverse) with a sinusoidal contrast modulation at a frequency of 10HZ in one-minute sequences. The same paradigm and frequencies were used to investigate magnitude processing (i.e. seven digits smaller than five followed by one digit larger than five; and reverse) and control condition (i.e. sequence of 1-4-6-9 followed by 2-3-7 or 8). We observed a strong EEG activation on right parietal electrodes and a weaker activation on left parietal electrodes in all conditions. Left and right activations were stronger in the parity than in the other conditions, reflecting an automatic retrieval of parity information conveyed by the Arabic digits. The weaker activation during the magnitude task could reflect a more complicated access of the information corresponding to magnitude status. Right activations during the control task could be due to the fact that subjects can quickly learn to categorize numbers arbitrarily. These neuronal activation patterns are consistent with the neuro-imaging literature describing the localization of basic numerical processing. Our findings indicate that magnitude and parity status are extracted automatically from Arabic digits, even when numerical stimuli are presented without instructions at a high presentation rate. [less ▲]

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See detailProject NUMTEST; Assessing basic number competence without language
Greisen, Max UL; Schiltz, Christine UL; Hornung, Caroline UL et al

Poster (2017, February 20)

While numerical skills are fundamental in modern societies, some estimated 5-7% of children suffer from a mathematical learning disorder, called developmental dyscalculia (DD). Nevertheless, universally ... [more ▼]

While numerical skills are fundamental in modern societies, some estimated 5-7% of children suffer from a mathematical learning disorder, called developmental dyscalculia (DD). Nevertheless, universally valid diagnostic instruments are still lacking, as all current DD test batteries are based on language instructions. Consequently their measurements are tightly linked to the specific language context of test administration and thus their results cannot easily be compared across countries. The present study is the first pilot study of a research project that aims to develop a test for basic math abilities that does not rely on language instruction and minimizes language use. To this aim, video and animation based instructions were implemented on touchscreen devices. A first version of the application has been tested with a sample of first grade children in Luxembourg’s fundamental schools, of which half used the same application but with traditional German instructions. First results indicate that performance in the experimental group was similar to the control group using verbal instructions. Relationships between linguistic background and the sample’s performance on one hand and qualitative usability aspects of nonverbal task instruction and tablet use with young children will be discussed. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 115 (22 UL)
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See detailLEARN Newsletter - Editioun 2017: Méisproochegkeet
Hoffmann, Danielle UL; Hornung, Caroline UL; Martin, Romain UL et al

Book published by LEARN (2017)

Detailed reference viewed: 87 (11 UL)
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See detailAssessing the cerebral correlates of non-symbolic number processing with fast periodic visual stimulation
Guillaume, Mathieu UL; Mejias, Sandrine; Rossion, Bruno et al

Poster (2017)

Some authors recently challenged the claim that numerical processes specifically handle non-symbolic magnitudes and they alternately suggested that general visual and/or control executive processes could ... [more ▼]

Some authors recently challenged the claim that numerical processes specifically handle non-symbolic magnitudes and they alternately suggested that general visual and/or control executive processes could explain performance in number comparison tasks. To further investigate this issue, we set up an EEG paradigm in which we recorded neural responses to the passive viewing of different arrays of basic visual forms. The stimuli sequence followed a fast and sinusoidal contrast modulation at the frequency of 10Hz (ten items per second). Visual properties of elements randomly changed from item to item, but their number was manipulated: in a control condition, arrays always contained the same number, and in the experimental conditions, the number periodically changed (each eight iteration, at 1.25Hz). We varied the numerical ratio between the frequent and the rare number throughout the experimental conditions. We recorded significant responses on occipital and parietal electrodes to the oddball frequency and its harmonics during our experimental conditions. Crucially, the strength of the signal was proportionally larger when the numerical ratio was larger. The results suggest that implicit and passive viewing of quick sequence of arrays was sufficient to automatically elicit neural synchronisation to numerical magnitudes without any explicit involvement of higher general cognitive processes. [less ▲]

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See detailMental arithmetic in the bilingual brain: Language matters.
Van Rinsveld, Amandine; Dricot, Laurence; Guillaume, Mathieu UL et al

in Neuropsychologia (2017), 101

How do bilinguals solve arithmetic problems in each of their languages? We investigated this question by exploring the neural substrates of mental arithmetic in bilinguals. Critically, our population was ... [more ▼]

How do bilinguals solve arithmetic problems in each of their languages? We investigated this question by exploring the neural substrates of mental arithmetic in bilinguals. Critically, our population was composed of a homogeneous group of adults who were fluent in both of their instruction languages (i.e., German as first instruction language and French as second instruction language). Twenty bilinguals were scanned with fMRI (3T) while performing mental arithmetic. Both simple and complex problems were presented to disentangle memory retrieval occuring in very simple problems from arithmetic computation occuring in more complex problems. In simple additions, the left temporal regions were more activated in German than in French, whereas no brain regions showed additional activity in the reverse constrast. Complex additions revealed the reverse pattern, since the activations of regions for French surpassed the same computations in German and the extra regions were located predominantly in occipital regions. Our results thus highlight that highly proficient bilinguals rely on differential activation patterns to solve simple and complex additions in each of their languages, suggesting different solving procedures. The present study confirms the critical role of language in arithmetic problem solving and provides novel insights into how highly proficient bilinguals solve arithmetic problems. [less ▲]

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See detailHow Do Different Aspects of Spatial Skills Relate to Early Arithmetic and Number Line Estimation?
Cornu, Véronique UL; Hornung, Caroline UL; Schiltz, Christine UL et al

in Journal of Numerical Cognition (2017), 3(2),

The present study investigated the predictive role of spatial skills for arithmetic and number line estimation in kindergarten children (N = 125). Spatial skills are known to be related to mathematical ... [more ▼]

The present study investigated the predictive role of spatial skills for arithmetic and number line estimation in kindergarten children (N = 125). Spatial skills are known to be related to mathematical development, but due to the construct’s non-unitary nature, different aspects of spatial skills need to be differentiated. In the present study, a spatial orientation task, a spatial visualization task and visuo-motor integration task were administered to assess three different aspects of spatial skills. Furthermore, we assessed counting abilities, knowledge of Arabic numerals, quantitative knowledge, as well as verbal working memory and verbal intelligence in kindergarten. Four months later, the same children performed an arithmetic and a number line estimation task to evaluate how the abilities measured at time 1 predicted early mathematics outcomes. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that children’s performance in arithmetic was predicted by their performance in the spatial orientation and visuo-motor integration task, as well as their knowledge of the Arabic numerals. Performance in number line estimation was significantly predicted by the children’s spatial orientation performance. Our findings emphasize the role of spatial skills, notably spatial orientation, in mathematical development. The relation between spatial orientation and arithmetic was partially mediated by the number line estimation task. Our results further show that some aspects of spatial skills might be more predictive of mathematical development than others, underlining the importance to differentiate within the construct of spatial skills when it comes to understanding numerical development. [less ▲]

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