Dyscalculia, Science

Dyscalculia Breakthrough?

Professor Butterworth from University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience has published a paper that may lead to a better understanding of dyscalculia. Where as dyslexia is a problem with words and letters, dyscalculia is a problem with understanding and manipulating numbers. Symptoms include the inability to say which of two numbers is the larger and a reliance on ‘counting-on’ strategies, often using fingers, rather than any more efficient mental arithmetic strategies.
The paper, due to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences isn’t available online yet but according to the press release two separate numerical areas have been found in the brain. Using fMRI to study the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), the area known to be involved in processing number information they found an area responsible for counting and another for assessing quantities. In the experiment subjects had to first count how many blue and green squares were displayed and secondly assess whether which colour was dominate when shown a continuously changing square or as one cloudy coloured rectangle. The two tasks lit up different parts on the fMRI scan


  1. ML

    ADHD medication helps people pay attention. However, problems with attention can make significant contribution to other learning difficulties, so if your child’s problems with numbers is associated with attention problems (which is likely – sequencing is closely linked to attention, and arithmetic requires maintaining focus through a series of operations) then it is probable that the medication would help, at least to some degree. That said, i would not personally recommend meds as a first course of action.

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