European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 174, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Developmental dyscalculia

  • Karin KucianEmail author
  • Michael von Aster


Numerical skills are essential in our everyday life, and impairments in the development of number processing and calculation have a negative impact on schooling and professional careers. Approximately 3 to 6 % of children are affected from specific disorders of numerical understanding (developmental dyscalculia (DD)). Impaired development of number processing skills in these children is characterized by problems in various aspects of numeracy as well as alterations of brain activation and brain structure. Moreover, DD is assumed to be a very heterogeneous disorder putting special challenges to define homogeneous diagnostic criteria. Finally, interdisciplinary perspectives from psychology, neuroscience and education can contribute to the design for interventions, and although results are still sparse, they are promising and have shown positive effects on behaviour as well as brain function.

Conclusion: In the current review, we are going to give an overview about typical and atypical development of numerical abilities at the behavioural and neuronal level. Furthermore, current status and obstacles in the definition and diagnostics of DD are discussed, and finally, relevant points that should be considered to make an intervention as successful as possible are summarized.


Developmental dyscalculia Number processing Calculation Learning disability Therapy Learning 



Developmental dyscalculia


Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Intraparietal sulcus


Magnetic resonance imaging


Conflict of interest

We, Karin Kucian and Michael von Aster, certify that there is no conflict of interest with any financial organization regarding the material discussed in the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for MR-ResearchUniversity Children’s Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Children’s Research CenterUniversity Children’s Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryDRK-Hospital Westend Berlin and Ernst von Bergmann Hospital PotsdamBerlinGermany

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