Multi-method brain imaging reveals impaired representations of number as well as altered connectivity in adults with dyscalculia.
Bulthé J., Prinsen J., Vanderauwera J., Duyck S., Daniels N., Gillebert CR., Mantini D., Op de Beeck HP., De Smedt B.
Two hypotheses have been proposed about the etiology of neurodevelopmental learning disorders, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia: representation impairments and disrupted access to representations. We implemented a multi-method brain imaging approach to directly investigate these representation and access hypotheses in dyscalculia, a highly prevalent but understudied neurodevelopmental disorder in learning to calculate. We combined several magnetic resonance imaging methods and analyses, including univariate and multivariate analyses, functional and structural connectivity. Our sample comprised 24 adults with dyscalculia and 24 carefully matched controls. Results showed a clear deficit in the non-symbolic magnitude representations in parietal, temporal and frontal regions, as well as hyper-connectivity in visual brain regions in adults with dyscalculia. Dyscalculia in adults was thereby related to both impaired number representations and altered connectivity in the brain. We conclude that dyscalculia is related to impaired number representations as well as altered access to these representations.