Differences in brain activation and connectivity between college students with high and average mathematical abilities



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Cognitive neuroscience research regarding individual differences in mathematical abilities have associated precocity with bilateral hyper-activation and connectivity of frontal, parietal, and cingulate regions. However, given the scarcity of such students (1/10,000), the applicability of these findings toward differentiating the above-average from the average math student among the remaining populations is unexplored. This dissertation investigated the neuro-cognitive differences associated with differential mathematical abilities that are more prevalent in the student population. Two experiments were conducted to analyze brain activation and connectivity differences between high and average levels of mathematical ability. These differences were investigated while participants were performing tasks of math reasoning (Experiment #1) and numerosity (Experiment #2). Findings evidenced that superior performance on both tasks was associated with greater recruitment and connectivity of frontal, parietal, and cingulate regions. This dissertation provided new empirical support between the convergence of mathematical reasoning and numerosity in terms of similitude of neuro-cognitive findings.



Math ability, Brain activation, Brain connectivity