I am Full Professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Education of the Université libre de Bruxelles, and a member of the Laboratoire Cognition, Langage & Développement (LCLD), one of the five research units constituting the CRCN.
A large part of my research relates to lexical access, visual and auditory word recognition, reading acquisition and reading disorders. My initial research focused on the early development of children’s explicit speech segmentation abilities in relation with learning to read in alphabetic scripts. Throughout my career I have continued to be interested in general issues about learning, such as the role of explicit and implicit knowledge in skill acquisition, and general issues about the perception of language, such as the nature of perceptual units and the role of syllabic structure in spoken and visual word recognition. In the recent years, with Fabienne Chetail, we have proposed a new hypothesis about perceptual/functional units in visual words, based on the arrangement of consonant and vowel letters. One current aim is to consolidate this view through both behavioral and neuro-imaging studies assessing the time course of consonant/vowel differentiation. Another is the study the development of the distinction, both in natural learning and with artificial scripts in adults.
We have also launched several projects on the development of numerical and arithmetic abilities. With Jacqueline Leybaert and Julie Nys, we have produced new evidence about the influence of language and schooling on arithmetic abilities. We showed that unschooled adults’ numerosity representations are less precise than those of schooled peers. Mathieu Guillaume explored arithmetic problem solving with different techniques, combining eye movements, verbal reports, response times and fMRI. With Florence Gabriel and Denes Szücs, we investigated the representation of fractions in children and adults, and with colleagues from the education department, we developed a set of manipulation games for the classroom which help children understand the meaning of fractional notation and enjoy reasoning with fractions.