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Language and numerical cognition: Does the language that we conduct maths in affect our performance?

School of Science

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Dr I Xenidou-Dervou No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Many consider mathematics to be a universal language. Arabic numerals are indeed used widely throughout the world; however, number-naming systems vary significantly across languages. For example, in English, two-digit numbers above twenty are named in the same order as they are written: first the tens and then the units. In Dutch or German, however, it is the opposite (“48” in Dutch or German is named “eight and forty”). This is known as the “inversion property” and increasingly more studies are demonstrating the difficulties that it imposes on the development of children’s mathematics achievement. Our research suggests that the language of numbers, i.e., the number-naming system one uses, could influence ones' working memory load.

Working Memory (WM) and its components play a fundamental role in mathematical achievement but their role in developing symbolic processing skills is yet unclear. This project has two aims: (1) To uncover how the involvement of WM and its components in symbolic processing changes with development and (2) To increase our understanding into how the language that we speak affects our WM and numerical cognition.

Understanding the cognitive mechanisms underlying symbolic processing can enhance educational practice and our understanding of how our brains learn to use numbers.
How to apply
All applications are made online, please select the school/department name under the programme name section and include the quote reference number.
Entry Requirements
A relevant Master's degree and / or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: cognitive, educational or developmental psychology.

Funding Notes

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for funding opportunities which may become available in the School.
UK/EU Fee band: Research Band 1 Classroom Based (£4,327)
International Fee band: Research Band 1 Classroom Based (£16,900)
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