Explaining school mathematics performance from symbolic and nonsymbolic magnitude processing : similarities and differences between typical and low-achieving children

  • Magnitude processing is one of the most central cognitive mechanisms that underlie persistent mathematics difficulties. No consensus has yet been reached about whether these difficulties can be predominantly attributed to deficits in symbolic or nonsymbolic magnitude processing. To investigate this issue, we assessed symbolic and nonsymbolic magnitude representations in children with low or typical achievement in school mathematics. Response latencies and the distance effect were comparable between groups in both symbolic and nonsymbolic tasks. The results indicated that both typical and low achievers were able to access magnitude representation via symbolic and nonsymbolic processing. However, low achievers presented higher error rates than typical achievers, especially in the nonsymbolic task. Furthermore, measures of nonsymbolic magnitude explained individual differences in school mathematics better than measures of symbolic magnitude when considering all of the children together. When examining the groups separately, symbolic magnitude representation explained differences in school mathematics in low achievers but not in typical achievers. These results suggest that symbolic magnitude is more relevant to solving arithmetic problems when mathematics achievement is particularly low. In contrast, individual differences in nonsymbolic processing appear to be related to mathematics achievement in a more general manner.

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Author:Fernanda de Oliveira Ferreira, Guilherme Wood, Pedro Pinheiro-Chagas, Jan Lonnemann, Helga Krinzinger, Klaus Willmes, Vitor Geraldi Haase
Parent Title (English):Psychology & neuroscience
Publisher:Departamento de Psicologia
Place of publication:Rio de Janeiro
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2012
Date of first Publication:2012/06/29
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/01/09
Tag:child development; cognition; dyscalculia; nonsymbolic number processing; symbolic number processing
Page Number:10
First Page:37
Last Page:46
All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0