Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nick Yunqi Zhang L&S Social Sciences

Illuminating numerical cognition with fNIRS: a developmental study

Representing the world in abstraction, numbers are central to humans as they are constantly informing our judgments and decisions. Every day, we use numbers to symbol quantities, index objects, and apply all sorts of calculations to solve problems. The existing literature has long established the ability to mentally represent approximate numerosity as a core knowledge, an intuition that is supported by the Approximate Number System (Xu & Spelke, 2000). While past studies have identified some key behavioral and neural signatures of number processing (Odic & Starr, 2018), its neurocognitive development in children is yet to be fully elucidated. Therefore, to further illuminate human numerical cognition, we hypothesize that there is an age-related effect in neural activation during number processing. Secondly, we hypothesize that the behavioral effect of ratio dependency can be observed neurally. To test our hypothesis, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), an optical brain imaging device that is non-invasive, motion tolerant, and child friendly, will be used to measure the participants’ neural activity during number comparison tasks.

Message To Sponsor

Thanks so much for your support! This project is part of the Illuminating the Brain Consortium that seeks to shed light on children’s thought processes by measuring brain activity from fNIRS. Your contribution to research in cognitive development is much appreciated!
Profile image of Nick Yunqi Zhang
Major: Cognitive Science, Philosophy
Mentor: Fei Xu and Silvia Bunge
Sponsor: Leadership
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