Dr. Daniel Ansari’s research into how young children learn basic math could open new opportunities to improve the health and livelihoods of Canadians and the economic potential of the country.
Try this test with your five year old: Is 6 bigger than 2? Is 9 bigger than 7? Does a box with 3 dots have less than a box with 5 dots? That simple online test is just one tool Dr. Ansari has developed to understand why some children struggle with even the most basic aspects of early math.
A world leader in searching for the brain mechanisms underlying numerical and mathematical processing, Dr. Ansari is using behavioural and brain imaging methods to study the individual differences that put some children on a poor trajectory for learning math. For example, his research has shown that early numeracy can predict future, high-level math abilities—information that will help teachers, school psychologists and parents.
Research had already proven that doing well in math can lead to better health and success in adulthood, and higher GDP for countries. It’s no wonder that Canada and other countries are competing to elevate their global rankings in math and science.
Dr. Ansari’s research has already led to several prestigious national and international awards, including a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair, and early career awards from the Ontario government, the Society for Research in Child Development and the American Psychological Association. In 2014, he was named a member of the Inaugural College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada.
His future research will examine how the brain changes when children are trained in basic math skills, and how early individual differences in children affect these changes.
To distribute or publish photos that appear in the NSERC Top Researchers section of the Media Room: