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Neuro-cognitive plasticity

Junior Research Group Neuro-cognitive Plasticity

The junior research group Neurocognition is particularly interested in the neural foundations of knowledge acquisition and knowledge application. We pursue this goal by evaluating current neuro-scientific theories systematically using state of the art neurocognitive methodologies such as fMRI, DTI, computational modeling, eye-tracking, tDCS, VLSM, VBM et cetera. The topical focus of the junior research group is on numerical cognition with particular interest being paid to the neural correlates of number processing as well as its development during childhood. Generally, numerical / arithmetical capabilities (e.g., understanding smaller/larger relations) are among the key competencies for living at the beginning of the 21st century. Related deficiencies not only entail severe consequences for the life prospects of individuals but also lead to immense societal costs. Because an adequate development of numerical competencies during childhood is a prerequisite for later numerical / arithmetical capabilities, research on the acquisition and application of numerical knowledge is of specific relevance. Moreover, in the context of the newly emerging field of Educational Neuroscience increasing international research interest is paid to the neural underpinnings and correlates of numerical cognition in general and numerical learning in particular. Thereby, it is intended to improve our understanding of the relationship between behavior and its neural origins in the human brain. The junior research group picks up on this recent development. Apart from basic research addressing the processes and representations involved in numerical cognition we are particularly interested in the development of numerical competencies in children, the neurocognitive correlates of numerical learning in adult participants as well as the re-acquisition and rehabilitation of numerical abilities following brain damage. Amongst others, we pursue the question if - and if so - in what way learning modulates the processes of numerical cognition and their neural instantiation quantitatively and/or qualitatively. In this respect we are specifically concerned with aspects of the (media) design of numerical trainings (e.g., embodied approaches, direct neural stimulation, etc.) and the issue whether and/or in how far numerical training affects the activation pattern of recruited brain areas, the neuroplasticity of the neural fiber tracts involved, and, in the case of brain damage, cortical reorganization.

Team Neuro-cognitive plasticity


Math with the Dancemat

Basic research on numerical cognition suggests that numbers are represented along a spatially oriented mental number line. This number line representation is crucial for complex arithmetic procedures as it is associated with children’s understanding of numerical magnitude. Additionally, recent research suggests that the development of the mental number line can be promoted by sensorimotor experiences in accordance with theories of embodied cognition. Accordingly, can children profit from embodied cognition when learning numerical competencies? Are sensorimotor experiences beneficial for learning more complex numerical and arithmetic concepts and procedures?

Neurocognitive foundations and processing pathways of arithmetic learning and their plasticity in adults as well as in typically and atypically developing children

Success in managing modern life is associated substantially with the ability to appropriately deal with and handle numbers. The present project aims at investigating neuro-functional grey matter and neuro-structural white matter correlates of numerical learning. This focus on the neuro-educational aspects of (numerical) learning addresses the issue of neuroplasticity, i.e. the neural instantiation of learning.

Former Projects