Enumeration and Alertness in Developmental Dyscalculia

Yarden Gliksman, Avishai Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Enumeration, the ability to report an amount of elements, differs as a function of range. Subitizing (quantities 1–4) is an accurate and quick process with reaction times (RTs) minimally affected by the number of presented elements within its range. In the counting range (range of 5–9 elements), RTs increase linearly. Subitizing was considered to be a pre-attentive process for many years. However, recently we found that subitizing could be facilitated by improving engagement of attention. Specifically, brief alerting cues increase attentional engagement and reduced RTs in the subitizing range. Moreover, previous studies found that students with developmental dyscalculia (DD) have a smaller than normal subitizing range (3 vs. 4) and their alerting attentional system is impaired. In the current study, we explored whether an alerting cue would increase the subitizing range of adults suffering from DD from 3 to 4. For controls, alerting increased accuracy rates and facilitated enumeration of quantities only in the subitizing range. Participants with DD presented a larger alerting effect; an alerting cue enhanced their RTs in all ranges, but did not increase their smaller than normal subitizing range or accuracy. Our results suggest that both domain-general and domain-specific abilities contribute to the mechanism of enumeration and related to developmental dyscalculia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalJournal of cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Attention
  • Numerical cognition
  • Spatial cognition


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