Typical and atypical development of basic numerical skills in elementary school

Karin Landerl*, Christina Kölle

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    139 Citations (Scopus)


    Deficits in basic numerical processing have been identified as a central and potentially causal problem in developmental dyscalculia; however, so far not much is known about the typical and atypical development of such skills. This study assessed basic number skills cross-sectionally in 262 typically developing and 51 dyscalculic children in Grades 2, 3, and 4. Findings indicate that the efficiency of number processing improves over time and that dyscalculic children are generally less efficient than children with typical development. For children with typical arithmetic development, robust effects of numerical distance, size congruity, and compatibility of ten and unit digits in two-digit numbers could be identified as early as the end of Grade 2. Only the distance effect for comparing symbolic representations of numerosities changed developmentally. Dyscalculic children did not show a size congruity effect but showed a more marked compatibility effect for two-digit numbers. We did not find strong evidence that dyscalculic children process numbers qualitatively differently from children with typical arithmetic development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)546-565
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


    • Basic numerical skills
    • Compatibility effect
    • Distance effect
    • Dyscalculia
    • Nonsymbolic magnitude comparison
    • Size congruity effect
    • Symbolic magnitude comparison


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