A general number-to-space mapping deficit in developmental dyscalculia

S. Huber, D. Sury, K. Moeller, O. Rubinsten, H. C. Nuerk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research on developmental dyscalculia (DD) suggested that deficits in the number line estimation task are related to a failure to represent number magnitude linearly. This conclusion was derived from the observation of logarithmically shaped estimation patterns. However, recent research questioned this idea of an isomorphic relationship between estimation patterns and number magnitude representation. In the present study, we evaluated an alternative hypothesis: impairments in the number line estimation task are due to a general deficit in mapping numbers onto space. Adults with DD and a matched control group had to learn linear and non-linear layouts of the number line via feedback. Afterwards, we assessed their performance how well they learnt the new number-space mappings. We found irrespective of the layouts worse performance of adults with DD. Additionally, in case of the linear layout, we observed that their performance did not differ from controls near reference points, but that differences between groups increased as the distance to reference point increased. We conclude that worse performance of adults with DD in the number line task might be due a deficit in mapping numbers onto space which can be partly overcome relying on reference points.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The current research was funded by the Leibniz-Competition Fund (SAW) project SAW-2014-IWM-4 granted to Elise Klein supporting Stefan Huber. Korbinian Moeller and Hans-Christoph Nuerk are members of the LEAD Graduate School of the University of Tuebingen funded within the framework of the Excellence Initiative via the German Research Foundation as well as the “Cooperative Research Training Group” of the University of Education, Ludwigsburg, and the University of Tuebingen supported by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts in Baden-Württemberg.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adults
  • Developmental dyscalculia
  • Non-linear layout
  • Number line task
  • Numerical cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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