Research 2011 - Relationships between number and space processing in adults with and without dyscalculia
Mussolin C, Martin R, Schiltz C.
Educational Measurements and Applied Cognitive Science Department, University of Luxembourg, L-7201 Luxembourg; Cognition and Development Department, Louvain School of Psychology, Catholic University of Louvain, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
A large body of evidence indicates clear relationships between number and space processing in healthy and brain-damaged adults, as well as in children. The present paper addressed this issue regarding atypical math development. Adults with a diagnosis of dyscalculia (DYS) during childhood were compared to adults with average or high abilities in mathematics across two bisection tasks. Participants were presented with Arabic number triplets and had to judge either the number magnitude or the spatial location of the middle number relative to the two outer numbers. For the numerical judgment, adults with DYS were slower than both groups of control peers. They were also more strongly affected by the factors related to number magnitude such as the range of the triplets or the distance between the middle number and the real arithmetical mean. By contrast, adults with DYS were as accurate and fast as adults who never experienced math disability when they had to make a spatial judgment. Moreover, number-space congruency affected performance similarly in the three experimental groups. These findings support the hypothesis of a deficit of number magnitude representation in DYS with a relative preservation of some spatial mechanisms in DYS. Results are discussed in terms of direct and indirect number-space interactions.