Title: Minds and brains in the classroom: Lab and school research in school mathematics
Abstract: In recent decades, our knowledge about the mental and neural mechanisms underlying mathematical cognition has greatly improved. Less explored are the mechanisms supporting the learning of mathematics at the school level and beyond, such as multiple-operation arithmetic expressions, rational numbers, algebra, and statistics. These topics constitute a promising meeting point for education, psychology, and neuroscience because of the variety and complexity of cognitive and perceptual processes involved, and the strong discrepancy between these topics’ relevance in mathematics curricula around the world and their low achievement rates. In this talk, I will present two topics from school mathematics currently studied at the Laboratory of Neuroscience and Cognition of the Center for Advanced Research in Education: (a) the mismatch between natural and rational number information that arises when learning fractions (e.g., the fact that 2/5 > 2/7 despite 5 < 7), and (b) the interplay of perceptual and cognitive grouping processes involved in the calculation of arithmetic expressions like 2+3×5 when spaced in ways that are congruent or incongruent with respect to the order of operations.