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ERIC Number: EJ799271
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 64
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
Dyscalculia: Neuroscience and Education
Kaufmann, Liane
Educational Research, v50 n2 p163-175 Jun 2008
Background: Developmental dyscalculia is a heterogeneous disorder with largely dissociable performance profiles. Though our current understanding of the neurofunctional foundations of (adult) numerical cognition has increased considerably during the past two decades, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the developmental pathways of numerical cognition. Most studies on developmental dyscalculia are based upon adult calculation models which may not provide an adequate theoretical framework for understanding and investigating developing calculation systems. Furthermore, the applicability of neuroscience research to pedagogy has, so far, been limited. Purpose: After providing an overview of current conceptualisations of numerical cognition and developmental dyscalculia, the present paper (1) reviews recent research findings that are suggestive of a neurofunctional link between fingers (finger gnosis, finger-based counting and calculation) and number processing, and (2) takes the latter findings as an example to discuss how neuroscience findings may impact on educational understanding and classroom interventions. Sources of evidence: Finger-based number representations and finger-based calculation have deep roots in human ontology and phylogeny. Recently, accumulating empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis of a neurofunctional link between fingers and numbers has emerged from both behavioural and brain imaging studies. Main argument: Preliminary but converging research supports the notion that finger gnosis and finger use seem to be related to calculation proficiency in elementary school children. Finger-based counting and calculation may facilitate the establishment of mental number representations (possibly by fostering the mapping from concrete non-symbolic to abstract symbolic number magnitudes), which in turn seem to be the foundations for successful arithmetic achievement. Conclusions: Based on the findings illustrated here, it is plausible to assume that finger use might be an important and complementary aid (to more traditional pedagogical methods) to establish mental number representations and/or to facilitate learning to count and calculate. Clearly, future prospective studies are needed to investigate whether the explicit use of fingers in early mathematics teaching might prove to be beneficial for typically developing children and/or might support the mapping from concrete to abstract number representations in children with and without developmental dyscalculia. (Contains 3 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A