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Towards an Understanding of the Relationship between Spatial Processing Ability and Numerical and Mathematical Cognition

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Given the importance of science and technology for economic competiveness, it is becoming increasingly important for children to attain more advanced levels of mathematical and science competence. Engaging children in spatial thinking early may be a way to address this in light of how research has ...

Given the importance of science and technology for economic competiveness, it is becoming increasingly important for children to attain more advanced levels of mathematical and science competence. Engaging children in spatial thinking early may be a way to address this in light of how research has demonstrated that spatial thinking plays a critical role in STEM success. Research as far back as Bingham’s 1937 Aptitudes and Aptitude Testing reported that spatial thinking can be associated with success in occupations and tasks related to engineering, science, and fields of mathematics. More specifically, there is evidence to suggest a strong relationship between spatial ability and mathematics: Studies have found that performance in spatial tasks like mental rotation is correlated with mathematics achievement in school age children and that visuospatial working memory is related to number and mathematics problem-solving. As a result, there have been recommendations to include spatial reasoning into the curriculum in elementary schools as well as to promote spatial play in preschool.

However, the mechanisms that underlie the relationship between spatial ability and mathematics are unclear. Additionally, while there is some evidence to suggest that spatial ability can be trained, there are still questions concerning how best to train spatial ability. This Research Topic addresses the link between spatial cognition and numerical and mathematical cognition in both child development and in adults. It is also interested in the impact of spatial training paradigms on numerical and mathematical cognition. This Research Topic solicits contributions from the fields of developmental and cognitive science as well as cognitive neuroscience.


Keywords: Spatial Processing Ability, Numerical and Mathematical Cognition, STEM, Spatial Processing Paradigms, Visuospatial Working Memory


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