New neuropizza is on 21st March 2024!

New neuropizza is on 21st March 2024!

Behavioral and neural characteristics of extraordinary mathematical skills: What distinguishes professional mathematicians, prodigious calculators, and savants from others?

Mateusz Hohol, PhD (Mathematical Cognition and Learning Lab UJ)

Mathematics is a core part of competencies essential to the professional development and daily life of individuals and societies. Today’s efforts of many psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists aim to understand both mechanisms of mathematical cognition shared by all humans and individual differences in mathematical skills. According to popular views, the elementary “sense of numerosity” associated with frontoparietal networks constitutes scaffolding for arithmetic, which in turn is considered the basis for more advanced mathematical skills. The core idea is that full-fledged mathematical cognition cannot be properly developed if elementary representations of numbers, both non-symbolic and symbolic, are not well-constructed. However, in most previous research, the association between mathematical achievements and performance in tasks tapping into elementary numerical processing has been studied in individuals with typical mathematical skills or in populations with math learning problems. My talk will focus on mathematical cognition in much less studied populations characterized by extraordinary mathematical skills, i.e., professional mathematicians, prodigious calculators, and savants. On the one hand, I will try to figure out behavioral and neural patterns that distinguish those groups from the general population. On the other hand, I will show what distinguishes “the right tail” of the distribution of full-fledged mathematical competences, i.e., mathematicians. By doing this, I will highlight the instructive role of studying experts in attempts to answer the question, “Where does mathematics come from.”


21st March 2024, 3:00 PM (CET)


Collegium Śniadeckiego JU, room 32, Kopernika Street 27, 31-501 Kraków