Trends in Neuroscience and Education
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Many studies have tested the association between number magnitude processing and mathematics achievement. However, results appear to be quite different depending on the number format used. When using symbolic numbers (digits), data consistent and robust across studies and populations have been found, with weaker performance associated with weak math achievement and dyscalculia. However, when using non-symbolic format (dots), many conflicting findings are reported. These inconsistencies might be explained by methodological issues. Alternatively, it might be that the processes measured by non-symbolic tasks are not particularly critical for school-relevant mathematics. A few neuroimaging studies have also shown the brain signature of these effects. During numerical magnitude processing, the degree of brain activation (mostly in parietal areas) varies with the children’s degree of math achievement, but the consistency of such relationships for symbolic and non-symbolic processing is unclear. These neurocognitive data provide ground for educational interventions, which seem to have positive effects on children's numerical development in typical and atypical populations.
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