Emotional and cognitive factors were examined in 18 children with mathematical learning disabilities (MLD), compared with 18 normally achieving children, matched for chronological age, school level, gender and verbal IQ. Working memory, short-term memory, inhibitory processes, speed of processing and level of anxiety in mathematics were assessed in the two groups. The results corroborated the hypothesis that children with MLD are impaired in working memory capacity, inhibitory ability, and speed of processing. However, no impairment was found in short-term memory tasks requiring passive storage of verbal and numerical information. Moreover, while the children with MLD showed higher levels of anxiety in mathematics, their anxiety levels in other school subjects were similar to those of normal achievers. Implications for identifying underlying emotional and cognitive deficits in children with MLD are discussed, along with possible approaches to treatment.
ABSTRACT—Recent findings in neuroscience challenge the view that the motor system is exclusively dedicated to the control of actions, and it has been suggested that it may contribute critically to conceptual processes such as those involved in language and number representation. The aim of this review is to address this issue by illustrating some interactions between the motor system and the processing of words and numbers. First, we detail functional brain imaging studies suggesting that motor circuits may be recruited to represent the meaning of action-related words. Second, we summarize a series of experiments demonstrating some interference between the size of grip used to grasp objects and the magnitude processing of words or numbers. Third, we report data suggestive of a common representation of numbers and finger movements in the adult brain, a possible trace of the finger-counting strategies used in childhood. Altogether, these studies indicate that the motor system interacts with several aspects of word and number representations. Future research should determine whether these findings reflect a causal role of the motor system in the organization of semantic knowledge.