Course Overview

Understanding number symbols and performing arithmetical operations is a necessary skill in our modern society. Proficiency in mathematics has been shown to be a predictor of later income and life success. This complex skill is, however, rooted in more evolutionary ancient skills shared with animals. Through education and enculturation, children learn the numerical symbols (written, visual, or spoken) and come to understand the exact meaning of numbers. Therefore, children’s cultural, linguistic, and educational experiences play a crucial role in children’s acquisition of numerical and mathematical skills.


In this course, we will emphasize the effects of education and language experience on the brain and math learning, typical and atypical. Specifically, this course will tackle the complex issue of language experience and language modality on numerical arithmetical processes and their underlying brain networks. This will be achieved by reading scientific literature and activities related to studies in the NENS lab with children and adults.


Overall, this course will introduce students to numerical cognition in humans with emphasis on its neural substrates and the influence of education. It will span from the preverbal core systems, shared with animals, that are foundational for later formal numerical understanding to the neural networks involved in higher arithmetical processing. At the end of this course, students will have a comprehensive overview of the uniquely human ability to count and do arithmetic.

Enrollment in the PEN Program or permission from the instructor.

Program: Educational Neuroscience

Credit: 3

Other Courses


Social Neuroscience &…

This course examines how social processes in the…

Educational Neuroscience


Dissertation Research

The exciting and timely discipline called Educational Neuroscience…

Educational Neuroscience

Credits 1-6


Cognitive Neuroscience Summer…

In this first of two research laboratory rotation…

Educational Neuroscience

Credits 4


Educational Neuroscience Proseminar

This course (PEN 701) serves as an introduction…

Educational Neuroscience

Credits 3


Contemporary Methods in…

In this course, students will learn about the…

Educational Neuroscience

Credits 1


Foundations of Educational…

The main objective of this two-part course, Foundations…

Educational Neuroscience

Credits 3