Residual number processing in dyscalculia

Cappelletti, Marinella and Price, Cathy J.. 2014. Residual number processing in dyscalculia. NeuroImage: Clinical, 4, pp. 18-28. ISSN 2213-1582 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Developmental dyscalculia - a congenital learning disability in understanding numerical concepts - is typically associated with parietal lobe abnormality. However, people with dyscalculia often retain some residual numerical abilities, reported in studies that otherwise focused on abnormalities in the dyscalculic brain. Here we took a different perspective by focusing on brain regions that support residual number processing in dyscalculia. All participants accurately performed semantic and categorical colour-decision tasks with numerical and non-numerical stimuli, with adults with dyscalculia performing slower than controls in the number semantic tasks only. Structural imaging showed less grey-matter volume in the right parietal cortex in people with dyscalculia relative to controls. Functional MRI showed that accurate number semantic judgements were maintained by parietal and inferior frontal activations that were common to adults with dyscalculia and controls, with higher activation for participants with dyscalculia than controls in the right superior frontal cortex and the left inferior frontal sulcus. Enhanced activation in these frontal areas was driven by people with dyscalculia who made faster rather than slower numerical decisions; however, activation could not be accounted for by response times per se, because it was greater for fast relative to slow dyscalculics but not greater for fast controls relative to slow dyscalculics. In conclusion, our results reveal two frontal brain regions that support efficient number processing in dyscalculia.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Dyscalculia; Number cognition; Parietal lobe; Residual abilities; Superior and inferior frontal

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Cognitive Neuroscience Unit


14 October 2013Published Online
4 October 2013Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Jul 2018 10:55

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:47

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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