Developmental Science

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 17 Issue 4 (July 2014), Pages i-ii, 481-645

Cognitive components of a mathematical processing network in 9‐year‐old children (pages 506-524)


We determined how various cognitive abilities, including several measures of a proposed domain‐specific number sense, relate to mathematical competence in nearly 100 9‐year‐old children with normal reading skill. Results are consistent with an extended number processing network and suggest that important processing nodes of this network are phonological processing, verbal knowledge, visuo‐spatial short‐term and working memory, spatial ability and general executive functioning. The model was highly specific to predicting arithmetic performance. There were no strong relations between mathematical achievement and verbal short‐term and working memory, sustained attention, response inhibition, finger knowledge and symbolic number comparison performance. Non‐verbal intelligence measures were also non‐significant predictors when added to our model. Number sense variables were non‐significant predictors in the model and they were also non‐significant predictors when entered into regression analysis with only a single visuo‐spatial WM measure. Number sense variables were predicted by sustained attention. Results support a network theory of mathematical competence in primary school children and falsify the importance of a proposed modular ‘number sense’. We suggest an ‘executive memory function centric’ model of mathematical processing. Mapping a complex processing network requires that studies consider the complex predictor space of mathematics rather than just focusing on a single or a few explanatory factors.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>