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Title: Influences of visuospatial mental processes and cortical excitability on numerical cognition and learning
Author: Thompson, Jacqueline Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 9897
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Numerical cognition has been shown to share many aspects of spatial cognition, both behavioural and neurological. However, it is unclear whether a particular type of spatial cognition, visuospatial mental imagery (VSMI), may play a role in symbolic numerical representation. In this thesis, I first show that mental rotation, a form of VSMI, is related to two measures of basic numerical representation. I then show that number-space synaesthesia (NSS), a rare type of VSMI involving visualised spatial layouts for numbers, does not show an advantage in mental rotation, but shows interference in number line mapping. I next present a study investigating links between NSS and the ability to learn novel numerical symbols. I demonstrate that NSS shows an advantage at learning novel numerals, and that transcranial random noise stimulation, which increases cortical excitability, confers broadly similar advantages that nonetheless differ in subtle ways. I present a study of transcranial alternating current stimulation on the same symbol learning paradigm, which fails to demonstrate effects. Lastly, I present data showing that strength of numerical representation in these newly-learnt symbols is correlated with a measure of mental rotation, and also with visual recognition ability for the symbols after, but not before, training. All together, these findings suggest that VSMI does indeed play a role in numerical cognition, and that it may do so from an early stage of learning symbolic numbers.
Supervisor: Kadosh, Roi Cohen Sponsor: Sloane Robinson Graduate Award (Lincoln College)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Space perception ; Parietal lobes ; Synesthesia ; Brain stimulation--Experiments ; Number concept ; Cognitive psychology ; Cognitive neuroscience ; Psychology ; Psychology, Experimental--Research ; Mental rotation ; numerical cognition ; synesthesia ; cognitive neuroscience ; non-invasive brain stimulation ; spatial cognition ; transcranial alternating current stimulation ; transcranial direct current stimulation ; transcranial random noise stimulation ; numerical representation ; number-space ; synaesthesia ; number cognition