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Cognitive And Neuropsychological Models Of Mathematical Processing Have Advanced Our Knowledge Of How We Do Mathematics - Essay Example

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Human understanding of mathematics is more complex and advanced as it involves the verbal pathways as well. According to Butterworth, human cognition of numbers begins from the first day of life…
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Cognitive And Neuropsychological Models Of Mathematical Processing Have Advanced Our Knowledge Of How We Do Mathematics
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Cognitive and neuropsychological models of mathematical processing have advanced our knowledge of how we do mathematics. Critically review this ment
Number of words: 640.
Mathematics is a powerful and resourceful symbol game and the neural pathways to perform mathematical operations are found in all animals. Researchers found that math ability is a survival instinct and its neural architecture evolved earlier than language pathways and also independent of it. Number sense may is indispensable to judge the number of predators or the quantity of food or the size of the turf indispensable for survival (Gallistel C. R., Rochel Gelman. (2003)). Research to understand brain mechanisms underlying mathematical ability have included not only normal human subjects but infants, patients with injured brains and even animals. While an unequivocal proof is still illusive, several interesting finds have helped make progress.
Studies confirm the mathematical prowess all of many animals like chimpanzees, birds and even the lions (Gallistel C. R., Rochel Gelman.(2003)), (Brian Butterworth.1999. ) Human understanding of mathematics is more complex and advanced as it involves the verbal pathways as well. According to Butterworth, human cognition of numbers begins from the first day of life. Studies were performed with babies by increasing or decreasing the number of dolls shown to them. A perceptible, intelligent change in their response confirmed the presence of mathematical hardware in the brain right from Birth. In fact Butterworth calls this an, "instinct." (Brian Butterworth.1999.)
A comparative study of nonverbal counting in humans has found to mimic that found in animals to prove that the basic foundation of the neural system is probably the same. (Gallistel C. R., Rochel Gelman. (2003)). However, the human brain's capability to handle complex mathematical components arises from the much-evolved brain, having separate pathways for different operations and their productive interaction. Although number skills are pre-programmed, Butterworth found that development depended on individual predilection for practice and cultural & linguistic influences. (Brian Butterworth.1999.)
Spelke highlighted the language factor in math processing in a behavioural study. Individuals fluent English or Russian were tested with math problems involving approximations and exact answers in both languages. The results found that subjects performed better with exact umbers when questioned in their familiar language, proving the role of verbal memory pathways. Contrastingly, approximate calculations were found to be independent of language. (MIT News. 1999. May 6th )
Proof that calculations for exact numbers and approximations follow different pathways also comes from brain imaging studies by Dehaen's team. Visual, spatial and analogical parts were involved in approximations while rote learning (needed for exact calculations) occurred in parts designated for verbal tasks. And the brain "assigned" the jobs to these areas instantaneously, suggestive of being processed there. (MIT News. 1999. May 6th )
Two theories to explain brain architecture for mathematical cognition are held important for attempts to understand the mystery.
McCloskey's Abstract Modular Model, says that numbers were processed through three separate and distinct modules that communicated through a common abstract quantity codes. They are the number comprehension module, calculation system and the number production system. (Micheal McCloskey. 1992)
Dehaene's Triple Code Model proposes an auditory area, a visual area and an analogue magnitude area working in conjunction with each other to perform mathematical tasks. The Arabic form mediates tasks like digital input and output, parity judgement and the like, the visual area deciphers magnitude and approximations and the auditory area provides for representation and recall of mathematical facts. (Jamie I.D Campbell.1994.)
Subsequent research by Campbell and Clark have found that while the basic tenets of the abstract modular model is to be accepted, the triple code model is closer to the actual workings. Building on this it s believed that all three systems work in an interconnected manner for while continuing to perform specific, assigned tasks.( Jamie I.D Campbell.1994)
Continual efforts are being made to explore the mathematical cognitive mechanism in the human brain. This may be pivotal to our approach towards learning, teaching and testing of math intelligence in the future.
1. Jamie I.D Campbell.1994.Archtectures for numeral cognition. Cognition (53) 1-44. February.
2. Micheal McCloskey. 1992.Cognitive Mechanisms in numerical processing: Evidence from acquired dyscalculia. Cognition. (44) 107-157.
3. Brian Butterworth.1999. Interviewed by The New Scientist Opinion on 3rd July 1999. Electronic format [URL]
4. A. Plodowski et al. 2003. Cognitive Science. On the mental representation of number. Current Biology. (13) 2045.
5. Gallistel C. R., Rochel Gelman. Mathematical Cognition In K Holyoak & R. Morrison (Eds). The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning. Cambridge University Press (pp 559-588) 2005
6. MIT, French researchers find different kinds of math use different parts of the brain. MIT News. 1999. May 6th (URL) Read More
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