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Neuroimage. 2008 Jan 1;39(1):417-22. Epub 2007 Sep 7.

Optimized voxel-based morphometry in children with developmental dyscalculia.

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University Children's Hospital, MR-Center, Steinwiesstrasse 75, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland.


Developmental dyscalculia (DD) is a specific learning disability affecting the normal acquisition of arithmetic skills. Current studies estimate that 3-6% of the school population is affected by DD. Genetic, neurobiological, and epidemiologic evidence indicates that dyscalculia is a brain-based disorder. Imaging studies suggest the involvement of parietal and prefrontal cortices in arithmetic tasks. The aim of the present study was to analyze if children with DD show structural differences in parietal, frontal, and cingulate areas compared to typically achieving children. Magnetic resonance imaging was obtained from 12 children with DD aged 9.3+/-0.2 years and 12 age-matched control children without any learning disabilities on a 1.5 T whole-body scanner. Voxel-based morphometry analysis with an optimization of spatial segmentation and normalization procedures was applied to compare the two groups in order to find differences in cerebral gray and white matter. Compared to controls, children with DD show significantly reduced gray matter volume in the right intraparietal sulcus (IPS), the anterior cingulum, the left inferior frontal gyrus, and the bilateral middle frontal gyri. White matter comparison demonstrates clusters with significantly less volume in the left frontal lobe and in the right parahippocampal gyrus in dyscalculic children. The decreased gray and white matter volumes in the frontoparietal network might be the neurological substrate of impaired arithmetic processing skills. The white matter volume decrease in parahippocampal areas may have influence on fact retrieval and spatial memory processing.

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