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Effects of Daily Practice on Subitizing, Visual Counting, and Basic Arithmetic Skills in Dyscalculia

Burkhart Fischer, Andrea Köngeter, and Klaus Hartnegg

Center of Neuroscience
Optomotor Laboratory
University of Freiburg

The ability of subitizing and counting undergoes a long lasting development lasting up to the age of 18 years. Large proportions of children with problems in acquiring basic arithmetic skills exhibit developmental deficits in the correctness and speed of this special visual capacity. The first study tests the possibility that subitizing and counting can be improved by daily practice. Altogether, 74 subjects (age 7 to 13 y) participated in the study. They were given a special task for daily practice during a period of 21 days. The difficulty of the task was manipulated by increasing the range of possible numbers of items (1-3 to 1-9) and decreasing the presentation time (300 to 100 msec).

The analysis of the pre-post training data revealed that subitizing and counting were significantly improved. About 85% of the subjects on average were able to improve both variables determining the quality of task performance: they reached the normal range of the control subjects (N=133) of the same age.

The second study shows, that basic arithmetic skills were significantly improved in a trained as compared to an untrained control group.

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