Developmental dyscalculia (DD) is a specific learning disability in mathematics that affects around 6% of the population. Currently, the core deficit of DD remains unknown. While the number sense deficit hypothesis suggests that the core deficit of DD lies in the inability to represent nonsymbolic numerosity, the access deficit hypothesis suggests that the origin of this disability lies in the inability to associate numbers with the underlying magnitude representation. The present study compared the performance of DDs with their low-achieving (LA) and normally achieving peers in nonsymbolic numerosity processing and number-magnitude mapping over 1 year (from kindergarten to 1st grade). The results demonstrated differential impairments in different subgroups of children with mathematics difficulties. While DDs showed deficits in both nonsymbolic numerosity processing and number-magnitude mapping, LAs showed deficit only in the number-magnitude mapping. Furthermore, the deficit in number-magnitude mapping among the DD group was partially explained by their number sense deficit. The number sense deficit hypothesis is supported. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed. Copyright © 2015 Hammill Institute on Disabilities.
CitationWong, T. T. Y., Ho, C. S. H., & Tang, J. (2017). Defective number sense or impaired access? Differential impairments in different subgroups of children with mathematics difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(1), 49-61.