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Mathematical abilities that are correlated with various life outcomes vary across individuals. One approach to improve mathematical abilities is by understanding the underlying cognitive functions. Theoretical and experimental evidence suggest that mathematical abilities are subserved by "core" and "noncore" skills. Core skills are commonly regarded as the "innate" capacity to attend to and process numerical information, while noncore skills are those that are important for mathematical cognition, but are not exclusive to the mathematical domain such as executive functions, spatial skills, and attention. In recent years, mathematical training has been combined with the application of noninvasive brain stimulation to further enhance training outcomes. However, the development of more strategic training paradigms is hindered by the lack of understanding on the contributory nature of core and noncore skills and their neural underpinnings. In the current review, we will examine the effects of brain stimulation with focus on transcranial electrical stimulation on core and noncore skills, and its impact on mathematical and numerical training. We will conclude with a discussion on the theoretical and experimental implications of these studies and directions for further research.

Original publication




Journal article


Prog Brain Res

Publication Date





353 - 388


Cognitive training, Core skill, Mathematical cognition, Noncore skills, Numerical cognition, Transcranial direct current stimulation, Transcranial random noise stimulation, Brain, Cognition, Humans, Mathematics, Teaching, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation