What is dyscalculia?

Developmental dyscalculia is a specific learning difficulty affecting the acquisition of elementary mathematical skills, such as:

Children with dyscalculia struggle in these domains, despite intellectual ability, typical neurological development, and strong educational opportunity.

Low numeracy is estimated to have similar or potentially higher costs to individuals and society compared to low literacy. Yet, dyscalculia is studied disproportionately less than dyslexia. This disparity is reflected in the number of publications on PubMed for dyslexia vs. dyscalculia over time. See below:

Explore the most active brain regions for elementary math:

(try changing “inflated” to “pial”)

(This data is an automated meta-analysis created with NeuroSynth, based on 96 fMRI studies)

Co-occurence between math and reading difficultites

Current research suggests that learning difficulties rarely occur in isolation and are therefore better conceptualized as a collection of phenotypes involving a variety of academic domains. Recent studies have demonstrated that 40-60% of children with dyslexia also present with math difficulties.

Explore how the math (blue) and reading (green) brain networks overlap (red) in the left hemisphere:

Explore the maps across brain slices:

How to read the brains:

Summary of the main regions engaged during math reasoning:

Currently, there is no consensus about:

But our multidisciplinary team at UCSF is working on it!

For more information about the science of dyscalculia, see our list of Publications and Prof. Pinheiro-Chagas’ slides for the event Neuroscience in Action on Sep 30th 2022 below: