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Ghasemi Toos M, Soltani Koohbanani S, Kareshki H, Tatar F. Comparing Cognitive Flexibility, Problem-Solving, Verbal Fluency, Working Memory, Reasoning, and Response Inhibition in Female Students with Dyscalculia and Healthy Students. mejds. 2020; 10 :38-38
URL: http://jdisabilstud.org/article-1-1204-en.html
1- Ferdowsi University
2- Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
Abstract:   (892 Views)
Background & Objectives: Learning disorders that create many problems for academic achievement have attracted the attention of researchers.  Learning disabilities belong to a large group of complications, called neuropsychiatric disorders. One of the most significant learning disorders is dyscalculia; it includes deficits in learning mathematical theorems, the visual perception of numbers, the understanding of simple numerical concepts, and computational methods. Untreated dyscalculia may continue till adolescence and may cause emotional problems, like math anxiety. Experts have presented several reasons in explaining the causes of this disorder; however, the research emphasis has been on issues related to executive functions. Executive functions include various processes involved in target–oriented behaviors, such as cognitive flexibility, problem–solving, verbal fluidity, working memory, reasoning, and response inhibition. The present study compared the performance of students with dyscalculia and their healthy counterparts. 
Methods: This study was causal–comparative research. The statistical population of this study consisted of all female primary school students in Mashhad City, Iran, in the 2017–2018 academic year. In total, 20 healthy students and 20 students with dyscalculia were selected according to the American Psychiatric Association criteria by convenience sampling method. Besides, their executive functions evaluated—the study groups matched in terms of age and gender. The test performed individually. To prevent the effect of fatigue on the test results (due to the high number of sub–tests, the test performed in two rounds; half of the subtest performed, and after a break, the other half performed. To obtain the required data, the D–KEFS used. The D–KEFS is a neuropsychological test used to evaluate the verbal and non–verbal executive functions in individuals aged 9 to 90 years. This test used to measure cognitive flexibility, problem–solving, verbal fluidity, working memory, reasoning, and response inhibition. This test has nine subtests, each of which is used to measure the performance of the related components. From these sub–tests, the first subtest is a comet assay to measure cognitive flexibility; the eighth subtest test, i.e., the Tower of London test, measures problem–solving ability. The second subtest comprises the verbal fluency test, which measures the verbal fluidity. The fifth subtest assesses working memory using the card classifying method. Moreover, the seventh subtest, i.e., the word context test, explores reasoning. Finally, the fourth subtest, i.e., the color Stroop test, investigates response inhibition. The collected data were analyzed in SPSS using Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and Independent Samples t–test.
Results: The scores of students with dyscalculia in the executive functions components of cognitive flexibility (F=1.235, p<0.001), problem–solving (F=4.827, p<0.001), verbal fluidity (F=0.922, p<0.001), working memory (F=0.035, p<0.001), reasoning (F=1.344, p<0.001), and response inhibition (F=9.778, p<0.001) were significantly different from the scores of healthy students. In all aspects of executive functions, there was a significant difference between students with dyscalculia and their healthy peers.
Conclusion: The obtained results revealed that children with dyscalculia acquired lower scores in the components of executive functions, such as cognitive flexibility, verbal fluidity, problem–solving, working memory, reasoning, and response inhibition, compared to the healthy children. The weakness of these children in these functions are related to the forebrain functional impairments and, in particular, their prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, students with dyscalculia reported more problems than their healthy counterparts in the variable of cognitive flexibility. Training the skills related to these functions is effective in improving the educational performance of these children; thus, the timely diagnosis and intervention are necessary for improving these difficulties.
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Type of Study: Original Research Article | Subject: Psychology
Received: 2018/10/4 | Accepted: 2018/12/29

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