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Junior Research Group Neuro-cognitive Plasticity  (Until 2020)

The former junior research group Neuro-cognitive plasticity (2012-2020) was particularly interested in the neural foundations of knowledge acquisition and knowledge application. We pursued 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 picked up on this recent development. Apart from basic research addressing the processes and representations involved in numerical cognition we were 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 pursued 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 were 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.

The junior research group ended with Korbinian Moeller starting a position as professor of mathematical cognition at Loughborouh University (United Kingdom) in April 2020. The remaining projects of the former junior research group will be completed at the IWM with Dr. Stefanie Jung as project coordinator.