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Children can enumerate the number of objects in a configuration in different ways: either through numerical processing or pattern recognition. An example of numerical processing is a child counting or subitizing a small number of disorganized blocks. This numerical cognition is related to neural processes in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). Moreover, a child might be able to instantly know the value a configuration represents. For example, a child could instantly recognize a pattern seen on dice and know what value it represents. Recognizing previously seen patterns is related to neural processes in the hippocampus. Using fMRI and an at-home training program on an iPad, we examined how these neural mechanisms are affected in young children through repeated exposure to particular patterns. A multi-touch iPad game, Fingu, was used for at-home training; players see configurations of 1-10 fruits moving on the screen and have to indicate the number of fruits by pressing down the correct number of fingers. Before and after at-home training, participants completed tasks similar to those in Fingu in an fMRI scanner. Half of the fMRI tasks contained configurations that were repeatedly viewed during iPad training with Fingu, while the other half contained novel configurations that the child did not see in the game. The fMRI scans were used to observe functional connectivity between the IPS and visual cortex and between the hippocampus and visual cortex. My role in this project included training participants to play Fingu, assisting in mock scans, and assisting in the actual fMRI scans.

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number processing, statistical learning


Cognitive Neuroscience

Hippocampal Learning and Number Processing in Young Children