Making math as easy as 1,2,3
Basic calculation skills are essential in today’s world. In fact, research suggests that numerical skills are an even stronger predictor of school success than reading abilities.
About five per cent of the population suffers from developmental dyscalculia—a specific difficulty to acquire even the most basic arithmetic skills, such as the ability to add 5 + 4 quickly. Studies have shown that people with below average numerical and mathematical skills are more likely to commit crimes and suffer illness.
Despite the clear importance of mathematical abilities and the substantial societal cost incurred by low numeracy skills, little research has been conducted on the development of mathematical skills and the origins of math disabilities. That is in clear contrast to the huge number of studies that have been conducted on reading disabilities.
Dr. Daniel Ansari, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, aims to fill this glaring knowledge gap by studying how children develop basic number skills from an early age. Ansari is using both behavioural and neuroimaging methods to study the predictors of successful math learning. His research is linking basic number processing with the learning of arithmetic. He is also uncovering the roles played by the brain during this process.
Ansari’s research will lead to better understanding of the root causes of math difficulties and develop tools to accurately diagnose and treat math problems in children.