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Dissociations in mathematical knowledge: Case studies in Down’s syndrome and Williams syndrome

Robinson, Sally J and Temple, Christine M (2013) 'Dissociations in mathematical knowledge: Case studies in Down’s syndrome and Williams syndrome.' Cortex, 49 (2). pp. 534-548. ISSN 0010-9452

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A study is reported of mathematical vocabulary and factual mathematical knowledge in PQ, a 22 year old with Down’s syndrome (DS) who has a verbal mental age (MA) of 9 years 2 months and ST, a 15 year old with Williams syndrome (WS) who has a verbal MA of 9 years 6 months, matched to typically developing controls. The number of mathematical words contained within PQ’s lexical stores was significantly reduced as reflected by performance on lexical decision. PQ was also impaired at both naming from descriptions and describing mathematical words. These results contrast with normal lexical decision and item descriptions for concrete words reported recently for PQ (Robinson and Temple, 2010). PQ’s recall of mathematical facts was also impaired, whilst his recall of general knowledge facts was normal. This performance in DS indicates a deficit in both lexical representation and semantic knowledge for mathematical words and mathematical facts. In contrast, ST, the teenager with WS had good accuracy on lexical decision, naming and generating definitions for mathematical words. This contrasted with the atypical performance with concrete words recently reported for ST (Robinson and Temple, 2009). Knowledge of addition facts and general knowledge facts was also unimpaired for ST, though knowledge of multiplication facts was weak. Together the cases form a double dissociation and provide support for the distinct representation of mathematical and concrete items within the lexical–semantic system during development. The dissociations between mathematical and general factual knowledge also indicate that different types of factual knowledge may be selectively impaired during development. There is further support for a modular structure within which mathematical vocabulary and mathematical knowledge have distinct representations. This supports the case for the independent representation of factual and language-based knowledge within the semantic system during development.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Semantic memory; Mathematical knowledge; Math; Language; Developmental disorders
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2012 16:31
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:35

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