Neurocognitive precursors of difficulties in reading and arithmetic
Difficulties in reading and arithmetic especially among primary school children are highly prevalent and pervasive cognitive impairments that severely challenge affected individuals in achieving functional cognitive and social competence. About 25% (OECD, 2006) to 36% (Perie, Grigg, & Donahue, 2005) of school children exhibit difficulties in the acquisition of reading, spelling and arithmetic. Such learning disabilities have been found to be related to neurocognitive deficits as well as social and/or cultural background. In order to understand, diagnose, remediate and prevent learning disabilities in reading and arithmetic, it is important to clarify the underlying factors and neurocognitive mechanisms that are substantially involved in the development of these skills. During the last couple of years, early phonological or quantity processing, automatization efficiency, attentional mechanisms, brain modalities synchronization and working memory functioning have been identified to predict the quality of the acquisition of reading and arithmetic during elementary school years. In particular, specific neurocognitive processes related to working memory and automatization (as measured by the rapid naming of items) seem to be crucially involved in the acquisition of both reading and arithmetic skills. Although some authors suggested that reading and arithmetic difficulties are skill-specific in nature (e.g., Dehaene et al., 1999 S. Dehaene, E. Spelke, P. Pinel, R. Stanescu and S. Tsivkin, Sources of mathematical thinking: behavioral and brain-imaging evidence, Science 284 (5416) (1999), pp. 970–974. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (527)[Dehaene et al., 1999] and [Lundberg, 2009]), recent findings indicate that different learning difficulties share some common characteristics (e.g., Dehaene & Cohen, 2007). Accordingly, the current volume of the Journal of Neurolinguistics addresses issues surrounding the debate of domain specificity versus domain generality of the underlying factors of difficulties in reading and arithmetic by considering behavioral as well as brain-imaging approaches.
from the Journal of Neurolinguistics