Ansari named as CRC in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning

July 28, 2020

Daniel Ansari, Professor, Department of Psychology

Daniel Ansari has been named as Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning.

Ansari, a Professor in the Department of Psychology, will hold the chair in the Faculty of Social Science and the Faculty of Education.

Studies have shown that numerical skills obtained in the early years are an even more important predictor of life success than are reading abilities. Currently, there exists little research investigating how children learn about numbers and why some children struggle with math. Ansari’s research program aims to isolate the best predictors of mathematical success using both behavioural and brain-imaging methods. Moreover, he will develop a screening tool to be used in countries across the globe to identify children who are at risk of falling behind in math. Ansari's research will transform our understanding of children's mathematical abilities.

Ansari is an internationally renowned leader in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. He is the director of the Numerical Cognition Laboratory. Ansari previously held a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair.

Ansari has established a research and training program that is interdisciplinary, collaborative and poised to set Western University (Western) on the world-stage through innovation and impact in the Science of Learning.

In 2018, Ansari was jointly appointed by the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Social Science and the Faculty of Education to spearhead new directions in the Science of Learning, and in December 2018, he was named the inaugural director of Western’s Science of Learning Centre.

The CRC research program will investigate how children become numerate and how this learning process occurs in the human brain. The objectives are to better understand how children learn the meaning of numerical symbols, as well as similarities and differences between cardinal and ordinal processing of numerical symbols. The research will consider cross-national similarities and differences in early numeracy. These innovative and integrated basic research and applied studies will allow us to determine how best to use evidence to inform strategies that can better enhance numerical learning in young children.

While children may be born with a rudimentary sense of quantity, the ability to understand and process specific numerical symbols are learned. A better understanding of how children learn the meaning of numerical symbols can inform strategies for optimizing children’s early, foundational learning of numerical skills as well as aid in the development of tools for the early identification and remediation of numerical difficulties.