Mathematical Difficulties and Exceptionalities

  • Rachel Lindberg
  • Rhonda Douglas Brown


In this chapter, we review research on mathematical difficulties and exceptionalities. Mathematical difficulties are distinguished from general learning difficulties, and include developmental dyscalculia and mathematical learning disabilities. We discuss research on cognitive processing associated with mathematical difficulties, including the approximate number system, or number sense, fact retrieval, delayed procedural development, fractions and proportional reasoning, visuospatial reasoning, working memory, and time estimation. We also present neuroscience research indicating specific effects related to mathematics for children with a diversity of neurodevelopmental disorders, syndromes, and conditions, including Autism spectrum disorder, Fragile X syndrome, Turner syndrome, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Williams syndrome, Spina Bifida, prenatal alcohol exposure, premature birth, developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, and depression. Neuroscience research related to individual differences in language and reading and giftedness, including synesthesia, is also discussed. We conclude by raising considerations and limitations for interpreting neuroscience research on mathematical difficulties and exceptionalities, including small sample sizes, group assignment, inferences from lesion and neuroimaging studies, and the disease model.


Mathematical difficulties Developmental dyscalculia Mathematical learning disabilities Autism spectrum disorder Fragile X syndrome Turner syndrome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome Williams syndrome Giftedness Synesthesia 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Lindberg
  • Rhonda Douglas Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Developmental & Learning Sciences Research CenterSchool of Education, University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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