Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory


Date of this Version

November 2006


Approximately 3-6% of school-age children are estimated to have mathematics difficulties (Badian, 1983; Gross-Tsur, Manor, & Shalev, 1996; Kosc, 1974, Lewis, Hitch, & Walker, 1994). There are many more children in regular school classrooms who struggle with mathematics but whose performance is not considered sufficiently poor to be classified as meriting a specific disability in mathematics. Specific mathematic learning disability (MLD) is defined in psychiatric and educational venues as a large discrepancy between mathematics ability compared to reading and general intellectual ability, although the size of the discrepancy required varies. To further complicate matters, mathematic difficulties are associated with other developmental disorders, in particular nonverbal learning disabilities (Rourke, 1993; Rourke & Conway, 1997). It is surprising that the cognitive underpinnings of mathematic abilities have not been well described in typically developing children, those with neurodevelopmental disorders, or those with MLD. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the role of working memory (WM) and the central executive (CE), originally described by the Baddeley and Hitch (1974) model, in children's mathematic competence.

Included in

Neurosciences Commons