Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Does attentional training improve numerical processing in developmental dyscalculia?

Objective: Recently, a deficit in attention was found in those with pure developmental dyscalculia (DD). Accordingly, the present study aimed to examine the influence of attentional training on attention abilities, basic numerical abilities, and arithmetic in participants who were diagnosed as having DD. Method: Nine university students diagnosed as having DD (IQ and reading abilities in the normal range and no indication of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and nine matched controls participated in attentional training (i.e., video game training). Results: First, training modulated the orienting system; after training, the size of the validity effect (i.e., effect of valid vs. invalid) decreased. This effect was comparable in the two groups. Training modulated abnormalities in the attention systems of those with DD, that is, it reduced their enlarged congruity effect (i.e., faster responding when flanking arrows pointed to the same location as a center arrow). Second, in relation to the enumeration task, training reduced the reaction time of the DD group in the subitizing range but did not change their smaller-than-normal subitizing range. Finally, training improved performance in addition problems in both the DD and control groups. Conclusions: These results imply that attentional training does improve most of the attentional deficits of those with DD. In contrast, training did not improve the abnormalities of the DD group in arithmetic or basic numerical processing. Thus, in contrast to the domain-general hypothesis, the deficits in attention among those with DD and the deficits in numerical processing appear to originate from different sources. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

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