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There is still much debate about the exact nature and frequency of developmental dyscalculia, and about how it should be defined. This article examines several key questions in turn: Is developmental dyscalculia a distinct disorder, or should it be seen as the lower end of a continuum—or possibly more than one continuum—of numerical ability? Do individuals with developmental dyscalculia show atypical brain structure or function? Does the study of acquired dyscalculia have anything to teach us about developmental dyscalculia? In studying dyscalculia, should we look less at arithmetical ability as a single entity, and more at separable components of arithmetical ability? How heterogeneous is developmental dyscalculia, and how important is it to study individual profiles? To what extent is developmental dyscalculia influenced by domain-specific versus domain-general abilities? The conclusion is that, though a significant amount has been discovered through existing research, and though this has some important implications for screening and diagnosis of dyscalculia, there is much more research that still needs to be conducted if we are to answer all of these questions fully. In particular, the study of developmental dyscalculia must be more integrated with the study of individual differences in mathematics in the population as a whole.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Ann Derore Dowker, Oxford University Department of Experimental Psychology, New Radcliffe House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX2 6GG, United Kingdom


Developmental dyscalculia, Individual differences, Components of arithmetic, Individual profiles, Brain characteristics, Domain general, Domain specific