Do subitizing deficits in developmental dyscalculia involve pattern recognition weakness?

Authors

  • Sarit Ashkenazi,

    Corresponding authorCurrent affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University
    • Department of Psychology and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
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  • Nitza Mark-Zigdon,

    1. Department of Psychology and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
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  • Avishai Henik

    1. Department of Psychology and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
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Address for correspondence: Sarit Ashkenazi, Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel; e-mail: sarit.ashkenas@gmail.com

Abstract

The abilities of children diagnosed with developmental dyscalculia (DD) were examined in two types of object enumeration: subitizing, and small estimation (5–9 dots). Subitizing is usually defined as a fast and accurate assessment of a number of small dots (range 1 to 4 dots), and estimation is an imprecise process to assess a large number of items (range 5 dots or more). Based on reaction time (RT) and accuracy analysis, our results indicated a deficit in the subitizing and small estimation range among DD participants in relation to controls. There are indications that subitizing is based on pattern recognition, thus presenting dots in a canonical shape in the estimation range should result in a subitizing-like pattern. In line with this theory, our control group presented a subitizing-like pattern in the small estimation range for canonically arranged dots, whereas the DD participants presented a deficit in the estimation of canonically arranged dots. The present finding indicates that pattern recognition difficulties may play a significant role in both subitizing and subitizing deficits among those with DD.

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