Tanya Evans Combines Neuroscience and Education Research at SIG 22 Conference


Tanya Evans, assistant professor at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, recently shared research at SIG 22 Neuroscience & Education Conference, held June 4-6 in London.

At the conference, Evans presented work on how “reading ability modulates the brain network of children with mathematical difficulties.” Learn more about her research from the abstract:

Math disabilities are a well characterized learning disability at both the behavioral and brain level, with a deficits in numeracy (Butterworth, 2010) accompanied by aberrations in a network of brain regions known to support quantity and symbolic representations, memory, as well as higher order executive functioning (Menon, 2014). However, the vast majority brain studies of children with MD are either entirely restricted to samples with intact reading skills, or fail to take language ability in account. While the incidence of comorbidity across learning disabilities in mathematics and reading is well documented (Lewis et al., 1994), the mechanism driving this heterogeneity in skill level across academic disciplines remains unclear. Here we characterize the neural signature of children with MD with a range of reading abilities. We find reduced cortical thickness in the left anterior temporal lobe for all children with MD, and demonstrate that MD status modulates the relationship between ATL intrinsic connectivity and reading ability. There is some evidence for a plausible hybrid model of both domain-general and domain-specific deficits (Ashkenazi et al., 2013), which our study provides support for at the brain level. Our results suggest that the ATL may be a locus of co-morbid learning disability, and aberrations to a domain-general hub supporting semantic processing may cascade into both reading and math impairments in childhood.

Ashkenazi, S., Black, J.M., Abrams, D.A., Hoeft, F., and Menon, V. (2013). Neurobiological Underpinnings of Math and Reading Learning Disabilities. J. Learn. Disabil.

Butterworth, B. (2010). Foundational numerical capacities and the origins of dyscalculia. Trends Cogn. Sci. 14, 534– 541.

Lewis, C., Hitch, G.J., and Walker, P. (1994). The prevalence of specific arithmetic difficulties and specific reading difficulties in 9- to 10-year-old boys and girls. J. Child Psychol. Psychiatry 35, 283–292.

Menon, V. (2014). Arithmetic in child and adult brain. In Handbook of Mathematical Cognition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press).