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    Neural and cognitive underpinnings of counterintuitive science and maths reasoning in adolescence

    Dumontheil, Iroise and Brookman-Byrne, Annie and Tolmie, A. and Mareschal, Denis (2022) Neural and cognitive underpinnings of counterintuitive science and maths reasoning in adolescence. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 34 (7), pp. 1205-1229. ISSN 0898-929X.

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    Reasoning about counterintuitive concepts in science and maths is thought to require suppressing naïve theories, prior knowledge or misleading perceptual cues through inhibitory control. Neuroimaging research has shown recruitment of prefrontal cortex regions during counterintuitive reasoning, which has been interpreted as evidence of inhibitory control processes. However, the results are inconsistent across studies and have not been directly compared to behaviour or brain activity during inhibitory control tasks. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, 34 adolescents (aged 11-15 years) answered science and maths problems and completed response inhibition tasks (simple and complex go/no-go) and an interference control task (numerical Stroop). Increased blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal was observed in parietal (Brodmann area (BA) 40) and prefrontal (BA 8, 45/47) cortex regions in counterintuitive problems compared to control problems, where no counterintuitive reasoning was required, and in two parietal clusters when comparing correct counterintuitive reasoning to giving the incorrect intuitive response. There was partial overlap between increases in BOLD signal in the complex response inhibition and interference control tasks and the science and maths contrasts. However, multivariate analyses suggested overlapping neural substrates in the parietal cortex only, in regions typically associated with working memory and visuospatial attentional demands rather than specific to inhibitory control. These results highlight the importance of using localiser tasks and a range of analytic approach to investigate to what extent common neural networks underlie performance of different cognitive tasks and suggests visuospatial attentional skills may support counterintuitive reasoning in science and maths.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): counterintuitive reasoning, executive functions, misconceptions, science, mathematics, adolescence
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD), Educational Neuroscience, Centre for
    Depositing User: Iroise Dumontheil
    Date Deposited: 18 May 2022 05:02
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:16


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