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Basic number representations and their neural basis

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Abstract: In the first part of my talk I will focus on basic number representations and how they are neurally implemented. Two types of number coding can be distinguished: summation coding and number-selective coding. I will discuss the results of computational modeling and fMRI studies that show how these number representations are functionally related and integrated along an occipito-parietal network. In the second part I will focus on how these basic number representations are associated to space. It is commonly assumed that basic number representations are spatially coded as a mental number line. Access to specific number representations is supposed to be mediated by mechanisms of spatial attention. I will present evidence from neglect patients and from behavioral experiments in healthy controls that question this idea. An alternative framework is proposed.

Bio: Wim Fias obtained his PhD at the Laboratory for Experimental Pychology at University of Leuven (Belgium) in 1997. In 1999 he moved to the Department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University and established his research group focusing on the study of various aspects of numerical cognition (basic representations, asociations between number and space, mental arithmetic, development, etc) using different behavioral and neuroscientific techniques (fMRI, EEG , patient studies). Later he extended his research interests to cognitive and action control. He is currently coordinating an interfaculty multidisciplinary research consortium at Ghent University that focuses on the integrative neuroscience of behavior control. He is co-director of the Institute of Neuroscience at Ghent University.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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