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Basic number processing deficits in ADHD: a broad examination of elementary and complex number processing skills in 9- to 12-year-old children with ADHD-C


Address for correspondence: Liane Kaufmann, Innsbruck Medical University, Clinical Department of Pediatrics IV, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria; e-mail:


ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and academic difficulties are frequently associated, but to date this link is poorly understood. In order to explore which components of number processing and calculation skills may be disturbed in children with ADHD we presented a series of respective tasks to 9- to 12-year-old children with ADHD-combined type and matched children without ADHD (of any type) without concomitant dyscalculia and/or dyslexia. Overall, group differences were not significant regarding overlearned and explicitly trained simple and complex calculation skills. More basic number processing skills are – for instance – the ability to compare one-digit numbers according to their magnitude (so-called magnitude comparison), to count or to transcode numbers, i.e. to write down an Arabic number ‘21’ in verbal dictation. Significant differences favouring control children in basic number processing skills were obtained in a number comparison task and in a dot enumeration task. Importantly, our results cannot be explained by group differences regarding specific working memory and executive function components. Thus, number processing skills and in particular the processing of numerical magnitude should be investigated in children diagnosed with ADHD even when no comorbid learning disabilities are reported.