Faculty of Social Sciences
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Bueren, Nienke van

Towards identifying a Developmental Framework of Numerical skills from Brain to Behaviour: the added value of Bayesian Optimization and Transcranial Electrical Stimulation

Interactions from brain to behaviour are still unclear in the field of numerical cognition, especially over various developmental stages. The relation between cognition (working memory, number sense, and fluid intelligence) and behaviour has mostly been viewed as a causal interplay that explains variability in numerical skills. This interplay on the cognitive level is not well understood, and recent neuroimaging literature indicates that this view should be extended towards the brain.

The aim of my PhD project is to provide a comprehensive framework for arithmetic neural characteristics, cognition and behaviour that could contribute to an increased understanding of numerical skills for various developmental stages. The main questions I will investigate are 1) How do neural characteristics, cognition, and behaviour interrelate in typical and atypical numerical skills? 2) How do the proposed components of this framework relate to numerical skills over different developmental stages? 3) Which neural predictors progress numerical behaviour by means of brain stimulation? Three studies will be conducted during this project. In two studies, I will define predictors that optimize (low) numeracy by using non-invasive brain stimulation (tACS) in combination with a specific type of machine learning, namely (Neuroadaptive) Bayesian Optimization. Hereby, a stimulation design will be established that is aimed at accomplishing a target brain state that is effective in manipulating numerical performance. In addition, another study is aimed at a developmental comparison between children, adolescents, and adults. This comparison will contribute to more detailed knowledge relating numerical skills during development which could translate to educational settings.


Prof. dr. E.H. Evelyn Kroesbergen, Prof. dr. Karin Roelofs & Prof. Dr. R. Cohen Kadosh