New talk: Unraveling common mechanisms of written language and arithmetic processing



Join us for the talk by dr. Chiara Banfi at December 6th (Wednesday) 3pm in room 2.15


Written and arithmetic processing are distinct abilities that share similarities in skill acquisition and use. From a theoretical point of view, both abilities require the tight and efficient integration of visual, verbal and semantic code. The available literature indicates distinct as well as common cognitive predictors of reading and arithmetic mostly used a subtyping approach and their results are often not in line with studies that addressed associations with a dimensional approach. In the current talk, I will present two recent two recent studies from our lab that aimed to fill this gap in the literature. The study by Jöbstel et al. (submitted) tested the specificity of cognitive predictors of reading and arithmetic by modelling one skill domain while controlling for other. Regression analyses conducted in a longitudinal sample of English- or German-speaking children indicated a degree of specificity in the pattern of prediction. Yet, it was unclear whether the prediction held across the whole continuum of performance. In the study by Banfi et al. (submitted), this research question was investigated into detail by means of quantile regression models. We tested whether there is a qualitative difference in the contribution of cognitive predictors to high- vs. low-level performance in reading and arithmetic. Our results indicated mostly linear relations between predictor and outcome variables. While this literature informs us about the cognitive basis of associations and dissociations between reading and arithmetic, it provides a static perspective by focusing on already acquired skills. In the final part of the talk, I will present initial findings from an ongoing project that investigates the cognitive underpinnings of the dynamics of learning. In this project, we addresses the relation between acquisition and retrieval of new verbal facts in German- and Italian-speaking children and investigate the contribution of executive functions to verbal learning.

About the speaker:

I graduated at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan (Italy) in 2013. I received the Doctorate of Natural Sciences from the University of Graz (Austria) in 2018. During the PhD, I worked in the developmental psychology lab of Karin Landerl under her supervision. During this period, I had the opportunity to take part to a cross-national project that investigated the neurocognitive underpinnings of isolated and combined reading and spelling deficits in Austrian and German primary school children. I was further involved in a cross-linguistic project including the University of Graz and the University of York (UK) that addressed the cognitive basis of cross-format integration and its predictive role for arithmetic in German- and English-speaking children. Between 2020 and 2022 I worked at the Institute of Medical Statistics and Informatics based at the University of Graz that aims to unravel the neurocognitive basis of orthographic and arithmetic learning in German- and Italian-speaking children.