Are poor mathematics skills associated with visual deficits in temporal processing?

H Sigmundsson, S.K. Anholt, Joel B. Talcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developmental learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dyscalculia have a high rate of co-occurrence in pediatric populations, suggesting that they share underlying cognitive and neurophysiological mechanisms. Dyslexia and other developmental disorders with a strong heritable component have been associated with reduced sensitivity to coherent motion stimuli, an index of visual temporal processing on a millisecond time-scale. Here we examined whether deficits in sensitivity to visual motion are evident in children who have poor mathematics skills relative to other children of the same age. We obtained psychophysical thresholds for visual coherent motion and a control task from two groups of children who differed in their performance on a test of mathematics achievement. Children with math skills in the lowest 10% in their cohort were less sensitive than age-matched controls to coherent motion, but they had statistically equivalent thresholds to controls on a coherent form control measure. Children with mathematics difficulties therefore tend to present a similar pattern of visual processing deficit to those that have been reported previously in other developmental disorders. We speculate that reduced sensitivity to temporally defined stimuli such as coherent motion represents a common processing deficit apparent across a range of commonly co-occurring developmental disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-250
Number of pages3
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2010


  • dyscalculia
  • dyslexia
  • comorbidity
  • visual dorsal stream
  • coherent motion


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