All Publications

  • Foundational number sense training gains are predicted by hippocampal-parietal circuits. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience Chang, H., Chen, L., Zhang, Y., Xie, Y., de Los Angeles, C., Adair, E., Zanitti, G., Wassermann, D., Rosenberg-Lee, M., Menon, V. 2022


    The development of mathematical skills in early childhood relies on number sense, the foundational ability to discriminate between quantities. Number sense in early childhood is predictive of academic and professional success, and deficits in number sense are thought to underlie lifelong impairments in mathematical abilities. Despite its importance, the brain circuit mechanisms that support number sense learning remain poorly understood. Here, we designed a theoretically motivated training program to determine brain circuit mechanisms underlying foundational number sense learning in female and male elementary school-aged children (ages 7-10). Our four-week integrative number sense training program gradually strengthened the understanding of the relations between symbolic (Arabic numerals) and non-symbolic (sets of items) representations of quantity. We found that our number sense training program improved symbolic quantity discrimination ability in children across a wide a range of math abilities including those with learning difficulties. Crucially, the strength of pre-training functional connectivity between the hippocampus and intraparietal sulcus, brain regions implicated in associative learning and quantity discrimination, respectively, predicted individual differences in number sense learning across typically developing children and children with learning difficulties. Reverse meta-analysis of inter-regional co-activations across 14,371 fMRI studies and 89 cognitive functions confirmed a reliable role for hippocampal-intraparietal-sulcus circuits in learning. Our study identifies a canonical hippocampal-parietal circuit for learning which plays a foundational role in children's cognitive skill acquisition. Findings provide important insights into neurobiological circuit markers of individual differences in children's learning and delineate a robust target for effective cognitive interventions.Significance StatementMathematical skill development relies on number sense, the ability to discriminate between quantities. Here, we develop a theoretically motivated training program and investigate brain circuits that predict number sense learning in children during a period important for acquisition of foundational cognitive skills. Our integrated number sense training program was effective in children across a wide a range of math abilities, including children with learning difficulties. We identify hippocampal-parietal circuits that predict individual differences in learning gains. Our study identifies a novel brain circuit predictive of the acquistion of foundational number sense skills and delineates a robust target for effective interventions and monitoring response to cognitive training.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1005-21.2022

    View details for PubMedID 35410879

  • Neural representational similarity between symbolic and non-symbolic quantities predicts arithmetic skills in childhood but not adolescence DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE Schwartz, F., Zhang, Y., Chang, H., Karraker, S., Kang, J., Menon, V. 2021


    Mathematical knowledge is constructed hierarchically from basic understanding of quantities and the symbols that denote them. Discrimination of numerical quantity in both symbolic and non-symbolic formats has been linked to mathematical problem-solving abilities. However, little is known of the extent to which overlap in quantity representations between symbolic and non-symbolic formats is related to individual differences in numerical problem solving and whether this relation changes with different stages of development and skill acquisition. Here we investigate the association between neural representational similarity (NRS) across symbolic and non-symbolic quantity discrimination and arithmetic problem-solving skills in early and late developmental stages: elementary school children (ages 7-10 years) and adolescents and young adults (AYA, ages 14-21 years). In children, cross-format NRS in distributed brain regions, including parietal and frontal cortices and the hippocampus, was positively correlated with arithmetic skills. In contrast, no brain region showed a significant association between cross-format NRS and arithmetic skills in the AYA group. Our findings suggest that the relationship between symbolic-non-symbolic NRS and arithmetic skills depends on developmental stage. Taken together, our study provides evidence for both mapping and estrangement hypotheses in the context of numerical problem solving, albeit over different cognitive developmental stages.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/desc.13123

    View details for Web of Science ID 000656424000001

    View details for PubMedID 34060183

  • Emerging neurodevelopmental perspectives on mathematical learning. Developmental review : DR Menon, V., Chang, H. 2021; 60


    Strong foundational skills in mathematical problem solving, acquired in early childhood, are critical not only for success in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) fields but also for quantitative reasoning in everyday life. The acquisition of mathematical skills relies on protracted interactive specialization of functional brain networks across development. Using a systems neuroscience approach, this review synthesizes emerging perspectives on neurodevelopmental pathways of mathematical learning, highlighting the functional brain architecture that supports these processes and sources of heterogeneity in mathematical skill acquisition. We identify the core neural building blocks of numerical cognition, anchored in the posterior parietal and ventral temporal-occipital cortices, and describe how memory and cognitive control systems, anchored in the medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex, help scaffold mathematical skill development. We highlight how interactive specialization of functional circuits influences mathematical learning across different stages of development. Functional and structural brain integrity and plasticity associated with math learning can be examined using an individual differences approach to better understand sources of heterogeneity in learning, including cognitive, affective, motivational, and sociocultural factors. Our review emphasizes the dynamic role of neurodevelopmental processes in mathematical learning and cognitive development more generally.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.dr.2021.100964

    View details for PubMedID 34108794

  • Neurocognitive modeling of latent memory processes reveals reorganization of hippocampal-cortical circuits underlying learning and efficient strategies. Communications biology Supekar, K., Chang, H., Mistry, P. K., Iuculano, T., Menon, V. 2021; 4 (1): 405


    Efficient memory-based problem-solving strategies are a cardinal feature of expertise across a wide range of cognitive domains in childhood. However, little is known about the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie the acquisition of efficient memory-based problem-solving strategies. Here we develop, to the best of our knowledge, a novel neurocognitive process model of latent memory processes to investigate how cognitive training designed to improve children's problem-solving skills alters brain network organization and leads to increased use and efficiency of memory retrieval-based strategies. We found that training increased both the use and efficiency of memory retrieval. Functional brain network analysis revealed training-induced changes in modular network organization, characterized by increase in network modules and reorganization of hippocampal-cortical circuits. Critically, training-related changes in modular network organization predicted performance gains, with emergent hippocampal, rather than parietal cortex, circuitry driving gains in efficiency of memory retrieval. Our findings elucidate a neurocognitive process model of brain network mechanisms that drive learning and gains in children's efficient problem-solving strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s42003-021-01872-1

    View details for PubMedID 33767350

  • Faster learners transfer their knowledge better: Behavioral, mnemonic, and neural mechanisms of individual differences in children’s learning DEVELOPMENTAL COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Chang, H., Rosenberg-Lee, M., Qin, S., Menon, V. 2019; 40: 1-14
  • Simple arithmetic: not so simple for highly math anxious individuals SOCIAL COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE Chang, H., Sprute, L., Maloney, E. A., Beilock, S. L., Berman, M. G. 2017; 12 (12): 1940–49
  • The math anxiety-math performance link and its relation to individual and environmental factors: a review of current behavioral and psychophysiological research CURRENT OPINION IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES Chang, H., Beilock, S. L. 2016; 10: 33–38
  • On the relationship between math anxiety and math achievement in early elementary school: The role of problem solving strategies JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL CHILD PSYCHOLOGY Ramirez, G., Chang, H., Maloney, E. A., Levine, S. C., Beilock, S. L. 2016; 141: 83–100


    Even at young ages, children self-report experiencing math anxiety, which negatively relates to their math achievement. Leveraging a large dataset of first and second grade students' math achievement scores, math problem solving strategies, and math attitudes, we explored the possibility that children's math anxiety (i.e., a fear or apprehension about math) negatively relates to their use of more advanced problem solving strategies, which in turn relates to their math achievement. Our results confirm our hypothesis and, moreover, demonstrate that the relation between math anxiety and math problem solving strategies is strongest in children with the highest working memory capacity. Ironically, children who have the highest cognitive capacity avoid using advanced problem solving strategies when they are high in math anxiety and, as a result, underperform in math compared with their lower working memory peers.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.07.014

    View details for Web of Science ID 000364882100006

    View details for PubMedID 26342473

  • The Odd-Even Effect in Sudoku Puzzles: Effects of Working Memory, Aging, and Experience AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY Chang, H., Gibson, J. M. 2011; 124 (3): 313–24


    The odd-even effect in numerical processing has been explained as the easier processing of even numbers compared with odd numbers. We investigated this effect in Sudoku puzzles, a reasoning problem that uses numbers but does not require arithmetic operations. Specifically, we asked whether the odd-even effect occurred with Sudoku puzzles and whether individual differences in working memory (WM), aging, and experience with Sudoku modulated this effect. We manipulated the presence of odd and even numbers in Sudoku puzzles, measured WM with the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and backward digit span task, tested older and younger adults, and collected Sudoku experience frequency. Performance on Sudoku was more accurate for even puzzles than odd ones. Younger, experienced, and higher-WM participants were more accurate on Sudoku, but these individual difference variables did not interact with the odd-even effect. Odd numbers may impose more cognitive load than even numbers, but future research is needed to examine how age, experience, or WM may influence the odd-even effect.

    View details for DOI 10.5406/amerjpsyc.124.3.0313

    View details for Web of Science ID 000297864700006

    View details for PubMedID 21977693

  • Prefrontal and limbic dysregulation during emotional processing in bipolar disorder: a functional magnetic resonance imaging meta-analyses Brooks, J. O., Chang, H. S., Bearden, C. E., Glahn, D. C. WILEY-BLACKWELL. 2011: 32–33
  • Dysregulated Activation of Prefrontal and Limbic Regions in Emotional Processing in Bipolar Disorder: A Meta-Analysis Brooks, J. O., Chang, H., Bearden, C. E., Glahn, D. C. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2010: 135S
  • Metabolic Risks in Older Adults Receiving Second-Generation Antipsychotic Medication CURRENT PSYCHIATRY REPORTS Brooks, J. O., Chang, H., Krasnykh, O. 2009; 11 (1): 33–40


    Metabolic syndrome is prevalent in older adults and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Second-generation antipsychotics (aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, and ziprasidone) increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and present many challenges for psychiatrists. In this article, we review the relationships between second-generation antipsychotics and metabolic syndrome with a focus on older adults. Because few studies focus exclusively on older adults, we augment this review with relevant findings from younger adults. The differential risk factors of each medication are reviewed, as are recent findings in monitoring and treating metabolic syndrome. Olanzapine and clozapine are more strongly associated with metabolic risks, whereas aripiprazole and ziprasidone are less associated. Although lifestyle modifications can help to reduce some aspects of metabolic syndrome, lifestyle modifications in conjunction with metformin therapy appear to be most effective.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11920-009-0006-0

    View details for Web of Science ID 000207901500010

    View details for PubMedID 19187706