Anna J. Wilson

Collège de France, Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France

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Publications (10)22.22 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT“The Number Race” is an adaptive game designed to improve number sense. We tested its effectiveness using a cross-over design in 53 low socioeconomic status kindergarteners in France. Children showed improvements in tasks traditionally used to assess number sense (numerical comparison of digits and words). However, there was no improvement on non-symbolic measures of number sense, suggesting that rather than being in number sense per se, the improvement was in number sense access; or links between symbolic and non-symbolic representations of number. Focused adaptive interventions such as this may contribute to reducing the socioeconomic gap in math achievement.
    Mind Brain and Education 11/2009; 3(4):224 - 234. · 1.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To examine whether or not university mathematics students semantically process gestures depicting mathematical functions (mathematical gestures) similarly to the way they process action gestures and sentences. Semantic processing was indexed by the N400 effect. RESULTS: The N400 effect elicited by words primed with mathematical gestures (e.g. "converging" and "decreasing") was the same in amplitude, latency and topography as that elicited by words primed with action gestures (e.g. drive and lift), and that for terminal words of sentences. SIGNIFICANCE AND CONCLUSION: Findings provide a within-subject demonstration that the topographies of the gesture N400 effect for both action and mathematical words are indistinguishable from that of the standard language N400 effect. This suggests that mathematical function words are processed by the general language semantic system and do not appear to involve areas involved in other mathematical concepts (e.g. numerosity).
    Brain and Cognition 09/2009; 71(3):306-12. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present results of a computer-assisted intervention (CAI) study on number skills in kindergarten children. Children with low numeracy skill (n = 30) were randomly allocated to two treatment groups. The first group played a computer game (The Number Race) which emphasized numerical comparison and was designed to train number sense, while the other group played a game (Graphogame-Math) which emphasized small sets of exact numerosities by training matching of verbal labels to visual patterns and number symbols. Both groups participated in a daily intervention session for three weeks. Children's performance in verbal counting, number comparison, object counting, arithmetic, and a control task (rapid serial naming) were measured before and after the intervention. Both interventions improved children's skills in number comparison, compared to a group of typically performing children (n = 30), but not in other areas of number skills. These findings, together with a review of earlier computer-assisted intervention studies, provide guidance for future work on CAI aiming to boost numeracy development of low performing children.
    Cognitive Development 01/2009; 24(4):450-472. · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    Anna J. Wilson, Stanislas Dehaene
    01/2007;
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    ABSTRACT: Adaptive game software has been successful in remediation of dyslexia. Here we describe the cognitive and algorithmic principles underlying the development of similar software for dyscalculia. Our software is based on current understanding of the cerebral representation of number and the hypotheses that dyscalculia is due to a "core deficit" in number sense or in the link between number sense and symbolic number representations. "The Number Race" software trains children on an entertaining numerical comparison task, by presenting problems adapted to the performance level of the individual child. We report full mathematical specifications of the algorithm used, which relies on an internal model of the child's knowledge in a multidimensional "learning space" consisting of three difficulty dimensions: numerical distance, response deadline, and conceptual complexity (from non-symbolic numerosity processing to increasingly complex symbolic operations). The performance of the software was evaluated both by mathematical simulations and by five weeks of use by nine children with mathematical learning difficulties. The results indicate that the software adapts well to varying levels of initial knowledge and learning speeds. Feedback from children, parents and teachers was positive. A companion article describes the evolution of number sense and arithmetic scores before and after training. The software, open-source and freely available online, is designed for learning disabled children aged 5-8, and may also be useful for general instruction of normal preschool children. The learning algorithm reported is highly general, and may be applied in other domains.
    Behavioral and Brain Functions 02/2006; 2:19. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a companion article, we described the development and evaluation of software designed to remediate dyscalculia. This software is based on the hypothesis that dyscalculia is due to a "core deficit" in number sense or in its access via symbolic information. Here we review the evidence for this hypothesis, and present results from an initial open-trial test of the software in a sample of nine 7-9 year old children with mathematical difficulties. Children completed adaptive training on numerical comparison for half an hour a day, four days a week over a period of five-weeks. They were tested before and after intervention on their performance in core numerical tasks: counting, transcoding, base-10 comprehension, enumeration, addition, subtraction, and symbolic and non-symbolic numerical comparison. Children showed specific increases in performance on core number sense tasks. Speed of subitizing and numerical comparison increased by several hundred msec. Subtraction accuracy increased by an average of 23%. Performance on addition and base-10 comprehension tasks did not improve over the period of the study. Initial open-trial testing showed promising results, and suggested that the software was successful in increasing number sense over the short period of the study. However these results need to be followed up with larger, controlled studies. The issues of transfer to higher-level tasks, and of the best developmental time window for intervention also need to be addressed.
    Behavioral and Brain Functions 02/2006; 2:20. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reading therapy has been shown to be effective in treating reading disabilities (RD) in dyslexic children, but little is known of its use in subjects with mild mental retardation (MR). Twenty adult volunteers, with both RD and mild MR, underwent 60 consecutive weeks in a cognitive remediation program, and were compared with 32 untreated control subjects. The experimental group showed a significant improvement in word identification, as measured by oral production (p=0.0004) or silent reading (p=0.023), and sentence comprehension (p=0.0002). Adults with MR appear to benefit from new approaches in the field of RD.
    Research in Developmental Disabilities 01/2006; 27(5):501-16. · 3.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies in human neuroimaging, primate neurophysiology, and developmental neuropsychology indicate that the human ability for arithmetic has a tangible cerebral substrate. The human intraparietal sulcus is systematically activated in all number tasks and could host a central amodal representation of quantity. Areas of the precentral and inferior prefrontal cortex also activate when subjects engage in mental calculation. A monkey analogue of these parieto-frontal regions has recently been identified, and a neuronal population code for number has been characterized. Finally, pathologies of this system, leading to acalculia in adults or to developmental dyscalculia in children, are beginning to be understood, thus paving the way for brain-oriented intervention studies.
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology 05/2004; 14(2):218-24. · 7.34 Impact Factor
  • Anna J. Wilson, Pekka Räsänen
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    ABSTRACT: Using traditional educational research methods, it is difficult to assess students’ understanding of mathematical concepts, even though qualitative methods such as task observation and interviews provide some useful information. It has now become possible to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe brain activity whilst students think about mathematics, although much of this work has concentrated on number. In this study, we used fMRI to examine brain activity whilst ten university students translated between graphical and algebraic formats of both linear and quadratic mathematical functions. Consistent with previous studies on the representation of number, this task elicited activity in the intra-parietal sulcus, as well as in the inferior frontal gyrus. We also analysed qualitative data on participants’ introspection of strategies employed when reasoning about function. Expert participants focused more on key properties of functions when translating between formats than did novices. Implications for the teaching and learning of functions are discussed, including the relationship of function properties to difficulties in conversion from algebraic to graphical representation systems and vice versa, the desirability of teachers focusing attention on function properties, and the importance of integrating graphical and algebraic function instruction. KeywordsRepresentation–Conversion–Function–fMRI–Versatility–Mathematical cognition–Algebra–Graphs
    ZDM: the international journal on mathematics education 42(6):607-619.