Mental number line training in children with developmental dyscalculia


Kucian K., Grond U., et al., 2011, NeuroImage


Using a predecessor version of Calcularis, this study set out to verify whether or not computer-based training was capable of improving the neurological development of number of processing and, in particular, of facilitating its automation. The predecessor featured the current country game, which is designed to train the child’s concept of an expanding number range and the transcoding of numbers onto a number line. Children with and without dyscalculia were recruited to participate in the study, which consisted of 15 minutes’ training five times per week over a period of five weeks.


fMRI scans were used to produce brain images of the participants before the study, directly after it and again after another couple of months. The purpose of these scans was to measure the change in brain activity. In the children with dyscalculia, it was quite clear that prior to the training, the posterior (rear) regions of the brain – where the automation of number line processes is supposed to take place – were less active than in the children without dyscalculia, while the anterior (front) regions of the brain were worked excessively to compensate. This finding was to be expected based on the neuronal development model. After the training, there was a measurable increase in activity in the specialised posterior regions of the brain and a decrease in activity in the anterior regions. This led the scientists to conclude that the neuronal specialisation and automation associated with number processing was boosted by the training.