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Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2016 Sep;44(5):365-375. Epub 2016 Jun 29.

Basic numerical processing, calculation, and working memory in children with dyscalculia and/or ADHD symptoms.

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1 Institute of Psychology, University of M√ľnster.
2 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne.
3 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Friedrich-Schiller University Jena.



Deficits in basic numerical skills, calculation, and working memory have been found in children with developmental dyscalculia (DD) as well as children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This paper investigates cognitive profiles of children with DD and/or ADHD symptoms (AS) in a double dissociation design to obtain a better understanding of the comorbidity of DD and ADHD.


Children with DD-only (N = 33), AS-only (N = 16), comorbid DD+AS (N = 20), and typically developing controls (TD, N = 40) were assessed on measures of basic numerical processing, calculation, working memory, processing speed, and neurocognitive measures of attention.


Children with DD (DD, DD+AS) showed deficits in all basic numerical skills, calculation, working memory, and sustained attention. Children with AS (AS, DD+AS) displayed more selective difficulties in dot enumeration, subtraction, verbal working memory, and processing speed. Also, they generally performed more poorly in neurocognitive measures of attention, especially alertness. Children with DD+AS mostly showed an additive combination of the deficits associated with DD-only and A_Sonly, except for subtraction tasks, in which they were less impaired than expected.


DD and AS appear to be related to largely distinct patterns of cognitive deficits, which are present in combination in children with DD+AS.


ADHD; Mathematical learning disabilities; basic numerical processing; comorbidity; dyscalculia

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