Impaired Arithmetic Fact Retrieval in an Adult with Developmental Dyscalculia: Evidence from Behavioral and Functional Brain Imaging Data

Silke M Göbel, Rebecca Terry, Elise Klein, Mark Hymers, Liane Kaufmann

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Developmental dyscalculia (DD) is a developmental disorder characterized by arithmetic difficulties. Recently, it has been suggested that the neural networks supporting procedure-based calculation (e.g., in subtraction) and left-hemispheric verbal arithmetic fact retrieval (e.g., in multiplication) are partially distinct. Here we compared the neurofunctional correlates of subtraction and multiplication in a 19-year-old student (RM) with DD to 18 age-matched controls. Behaviorally, RM performed significantly worse than controls in multiplication, while subtraction was unaffected. Neurofunctional differences were most pronounced regarding multiplication: RM showed significantly stronger activation than controls not only in left angular gyrus but also in a fronto-parietal network (including left intraparietal sulcus and inferior frontal gyrus) typically activated during procedure-based calculation. Region-of-interest analyses indicated group differences in multiplication only, which, however, did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. Our results are consistent with dissociable and processing-specific, but not operation-specific neurofunctional networks. Procedure-based calculation is not only associated with subtraction but also with (untrained) multiplication facts. Only after rote learning, facts can be retrieved quasi automatically from memory. We suggest that this learning process and the associated shift in activation patterns has not fully occurred in RM, as reflected in her need to resort to procedure-based strategies to solve multiplication facts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number735
Number of pages29
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022

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