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UW Educational Neuroscience Lab
Linking Education and Neuroscience

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Numerical Cognition


Why are fractions so hard to learn?
What brain systems might support fraction learning?  
How do these systems develop in schoolchildren?

See the LAMBDA project page for more details.

Selected Publications

Matthews PG & Hubbard EM. (in press, 2016). Making space for spatial proportions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, DOI: 10.1177/0022219416679133

Matthews, P.M., Lewis, M.R. & Hubbard, E.M. (2016). Individual differences in nonsymbolic ratio processing predict symbolic math performance. Psychological Science, 27(2):191-202. doi:10.1177/0956797615617799

Lewis, M.R., Matthews, P.M. & Hubbard, E.M. (2015). Neurocognitive Architectures and the Nonsymbolic Foundations of Fractions Understanding. In D.B. Berch, D.C. Geary, and K.M. Koepke (Eds.) Development of Mathematical Cognition-Neural Substrates and Genetic Influences. (p. 141-160) Elsevier. ISBN: 978-0128018712.

Spatial-Numerical Associations

How do spatial representations help us to make sense of numbers?
Are individual differences in spatial skills related to numerical and mathematical abilities?
How might we teach children to use spatial strategies for making sense of numbers?

To hear more about the SNARC effect, and some of what previous research has demonstrated, you can listen to this podcast by our own Liz Toomarian.

Selected publications

Viarouge, A., Hubbard, E.M,, & Dehaene, S. (2014). The organization of spatial reference frames involved in the SNARC effect. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 67(8):1484-1499 (DOI:10.1080/17470218.2014.897358)

Viarouge, A., Hubbard, E.M. & McCandliss, B.D. (2014). The cognitive mechanisms of the SNARC effect: An individual differences approach. PLOS One. 9(4): e95756 (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095756).

Knops, A., Thirion, B., Hubbard, E.M., Michel, V. & Dehaene, S. (2009). Recruitment of an area involved in eye movements during mental arithmetic. Science, 324(5934):1583–1585 (doi:10.1126/science.1171599).

Ranzini, M., Dehaene, S., Piazza, M. & Hubbard, E.M. (2009). Neural mechanisms of attentional shifts due to irrelevant spatial and numerical cues. Neuropsychologia, 47(12):2615-2624 (doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.05.011).

Hubbard, E.M., Piazza, M. Pinel, P. & Dehaene, S. (2005). Interactions between numbers and space in parietal cortex. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6(6): 435-448.

The Symbol-Grounding Problem

How do number symbols get their meanings?
Selected publications
Hubbard, E.M., Diester, I., Cantlon, J.F., Ansari, D., van Opstal, F. & Troiani, V. (2008). The evolution of numerical cognition: from number neurons to linguistic quantifiers. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(46):11819–11824 (doi:10.1523/jneurosci.3808-08.2008).