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Mental number line training in children with developmental dyscalculia


Kucian, K; Grond, U; Rotzer, S; Henzi, B; Schönmann, C; Plangger, F; Gälli, M; Martin, E; von Aster, M (2011). Mental number line training in children with developmental dyscalculia. NeuroImage, 57(3):782-795.

Abstract

Developmental dyscalculia (DD) is a specific learning disability that affects the acquisition of mathematical skills in children with normal intelligence and age-appropriate school education (prevalence 3-6%). One essential step in the development of mathematical understanding is the formation and automated access to a spatial representation of numbers. Many children with DD show a deficient development of such a mental number line. The present study aimed to develop a computer-based training program to improve the construction and access to the mental number line. Sixteen children with DD aged 8-10 years and 16 matched control children completed the 5-week computer training. All children played the game 15 min a day for 5 days a week. The efficiency of the training was evaluated by means of neuropsychological tests and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a number line task. In general, children with and without DD showed a benefit from the training indicated by (a) improved spatial representation of numbers and (b) the number of correctly solved arithmetical problems. Regarding group differences in brain activation, children with DD showed less activation in bilateral parietal regions, which reflects neuronal dysfunction in pivotal regions for number processing. Both groups showed reduced recruitment of relevant brain regions for number processing after the training which can be attributed to automatization of cognitive processes necessary for mathematical reasoning. Moreover, results point to a partial remediation of deficient brain activation in dyscalculics after consolidation of acquired and refined number representation. To conclude, the present study represents the first attempt to evaluate a custom-designed training program in a group of dyscalculic children and results indicate that the training leads to an improved spatial representation of the mental number line and a modulation of neural activation, which both facilitate processing of numerical tasks.

Developmental dyscalculia (DD) is a specific learning disability that affects the acquisition of mathematical skills in children with normal intelligence and age-appropriate school education (prevalence 3-6%). One essential step in the development of mathematical understanding is the formation and automated access to a spatial representation of numbers. Many children with DD show a deficient development of such a mental number line. The present study aimed to develop a computer-based training program to improve the construction and access to the mental number line. Sixteen children with DD aged 8-10 years and 16 matched control children completed the 5-week computer training. All children played the game 15 min a day for 5 days a week. The efficiency of the training was evaluated by means of neuropsychological tests and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a number line task. In general, children with and without DD showed a benefit from the training indicated by (a) improved spatial representation of numbers and (b) the number of correctly solved arithmetical problems. Regarding group differences in brain activation, children with DD showed less activation in bilateral parietal regions, which reflects neuronal dysfunction in pivotal regions for number processing. Both groups showed reduced recruitment of relevant brain regions for number processing after the training which can be attributed to automatization of cognitive processes necessary for mathematical reasoning. Moreover, results point to a partial remediation of deficient brain activation in dyscalculics after consolidation of acquired and refined number representation. To conclude, the present study represents the first attempt to evaluate a custom-designed training program in a group of dyscalculic children and results indicate that the training leads to an improved spatial representation of the mental number line and a modulation of neural activation, which both facilitate processing of numerical tasks.

Citations

69 citations in Web of Science®
85 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:28 Nov 2011 16:22
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:08
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.01.070
PubMed ID:21295145

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