Numerical Cognition after Brain Injury: Is There a Relationship between Subitizing and Arithmetical Abilities?
Gosling E., Demeyere N., Dowker A.
Subitizing is the ability to enumerate small quantities efficiently and automatically. Counting is a strategy adopted for larger numerosities resulting in a near linear increase in response time with each increase in quantity. Some developmental studies suggest that being able to subitize efficiently may be a predictor of later arithmetical ability. Being able to enumerate small quantities efficiently may be necessary for at least some aspects of arithmetical skill and understanding to develop. According to this view, arithmetic ability ultimately depends upon subitizing. If this were the case, when acquired brain injury results in impaired performance on subitizing tasks, mathematical performance may also be impaired. The following study tested eleven healthy control participants and nine chronic patients with acquired brain injury on tasks focused on visual enumeration, addition and multiplication to explore a potential relationship between subitizing ability and calculation performance. No overall correlations were found between subitizing and addition or multiplication speed. However, a very clear subitizing impairment was found in two patients who then demonstrated very different levels of preserved addition skills. The dissociations found and the large inter-individual variability supports a more componential view of arithmetical ability.