Time processing in dyscalculia

Cappelletti, M., Freeman, E. D. & Butterworth, B. L. (2011). Time processing in dyscalculia. Frontiers in Psychology, 2(364), doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00364

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Abstract

To test whether atypical number development may affect other types of quantity processing, we investigated temporal discrimination in adults with developmental dyscalculia (DD). This also allowed us to test whether number and time may be sub-served by a common quantity system or decision mechanisms: if they do, both should be impaired in dyscalculia, but if number and time are distinct they should dissociate. Participants judged which of two successively presented horizontal lines was longer in duration, the first line being preceded by either a small or a large number prime ("1" or "9") or by a neutral symbol ("#"), or in a third task participants decided which of two Arabic numbers (either "1," "5," "9") lasted longer. Results showed that (i) DD's temporal discriminability was normal as long as numbers were not part of the experimental design, even as task-irrelevant stimuli; however (ii) task-irrelevant numbers dramatically disrupted DD's temporal discriminability the more their salience increased, though the actual magnitude of the numbers had no effect; in contrast (iii) controls' time perception was robust to the presence of numbers but modulated by numerical quantity: therefore small number primes or numerical stimuli seemed to make durations appear shorter than veridical, but longer for larger numerical prime or numerical stimuli. This study is the first to show spared temporal discrimination - a dimension of continuous quantity - in a population with a congenital number impairment. Our data reinforce the idea of a partially shared quantity system across numerical and temporal dimensions, which supports both dissociations and interactions among dimensions; however, they suggest that impaired number in DD is unlikely to originate from systems initially dedicated to continuous quantity processing like time.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This document is protected by © copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. it is reproduced with permission.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/1309

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