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The psychology of number: developmental, evolutionary and cognitive-neuroscientific considerations

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ABSTRACT The study of numerical cognition has received much attention in the fields of psychology and neuroscience for the past 20 years. Recently, research has shown that preverbal infants and nonhuman animals have a rudimentary form of numerical knowledge. In particular, in humans, this understanding seems to lie at the rootS of mathematical learning, a cultural construct developed through maths education. In this talk, we argue that the rudiments of numerical thinking found in preverbal babies are the same found in non-human animals. In humans, however, the intrinsic relationship with language makes mathematical learning unique. We discuss the models proposed to account for these findings, and the relevance of these findings for the education of mathematics.

PROFILE Claudia took her PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her particular interests are in how the mind conceptualizes the world, and in particular, development in young children and the evolutionary origins of certain domains of knowledge such as naive physics/number and naive psychology.

Claudia has worked as Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Louisiana, and lecturer at the University of Essex. She has published a number of papers on the topic of early numerical cognition and comparative cognition in nonhuman animals.

This talk is part of the Psychology & Education series.

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