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Research projects

Our perceptual system permanently encodes numerical and geometric information from the surrounding world. These intuitions, present from an early age, may serve as a basis for the acquisition of mathematical knowledge. However, primitive intuitions remain limited, and therefore do not entirely explain how we learn the simplest mathematical concepts, such as natural integers and Euclidean geometry.
Children have intuitions about numbers from an early age; later, these intuitions guide their learning in classroom settings. However, very little research has sought to characterize children’s intuitive knowledge in another area of mathematics: geometry. In my previous research (Project MathConstruction), I approached this question by focusing on Euclidean geometry, using angles, a central Euclidean concept, as a diagnostic tool.
Our project aims to find out which cognitive and developmental factors contribute to the activation of brain patterns during word learning and recognition in young children using the event-related potential (ERP) technique.
While our work focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying typical language acquisition, knowledge of these mechanisms then allows us to explore whether such mechanisms are present or not in various populations having atypical language acquisition, and might be implicated in their learning difficulties (with potential impact for designing remediation techniques).
We explore how elementary perceptual and learning mechanisms, implicated in language development, may be measured at the individual level (using combined behavioral and imaging methods) to derive early biomarkers predictive of subsequent language delay.
Consonants have been proposed to have more weight than vowels at the level of lexical processing. We found that the C-bias is present in French from 8 months to adulthood, in many lexically-related processes.
For prosody to be helpful to learn grammar, infants need to process it early in development. When do infants first show sensitivity to prosody and how do they use it to learn grammar? Infants encounter speech prosody in utero. Fetuses already learn from this information, as newborns show differential activation to prosodic patterns found in the language(s) heard during pregnancy and can use prosodic information to process accelerated speech.
Our everyday visual environment is predictable even if particular aspects may vary from one situation to another. Mental schemes of scenes are built in an interaction with our visual environment and these schemas help us to extract very quickly the global meaning of a particular scene, i.e. the so-called gist.
Until recently, there has been little evidence regarding how and when monolingual children begin to integrate words into an inter-connected semantic system and to develop an adult-like semantic system encoding relationships between words.