Basic numerical capacities and prevalence of developmental dyscalculia: the Havana Survey

Dev Psychol. 2012 Jan;48(1):123-35. doi: 10.1037/a0025356. Epub 2011 Sep 12.


The association of enumeration and number comparison capacities with arithmetical competence was examined in a large sample of children from 2nd to 9th grades. It was found that efficiency on numerical capacities predicted separately more than 25% of the variance in the individual differences on a timed arithmetical test, and this occurred for both younger and older learners. These capacities were also significant predictors of individual variations in an untimed curriculum-based math achievement test and on the teacher scores of math performance over developmental time. Based on these findings, these numerical capacities were used for estimating the prevalence and gender ratio of basic numerical deficits and developmental dyscalculia (DD) over the grade range defined above (N = 11,652 children). The extent to which DD affects the population with poor ability on calculation was also examined. For this purpose, the prevalence and gender ratio of arithmetical dysfluency (AD) were estimated in the same cohort. The estimated prevalence of DD was 3.4%, and the male:female ratio was 4:1. However, the prevalence of AD was almost 3 times as high (9.35%), and no gender differences were found (male:female ratio = 1.07:1). Basic numerical deficits affect 4.54% of school-age population and affect more boys than girls (2.4:1). The differences between the corresponding estimates were highly significant (α < .01). Based on these contrastive findings, it is concluded that DD, defined as a defective sense of numerosity, could be a distinctive disorder that affects only a portion of children with AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cuba / epidemiology
  • Dyscalculia / epidemiology*
  • Dyscalculia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics as Topic