Arithmetic and calculation skills in people with autism spectrum disorders: Neurocognitive approaches
Keywords:autism spectrum disorders, arithmetic and calculation skills, brain, cognitive functions.
The aim of this paper is to review studies investigating the arithmetic and calculation skills in people with autism spectrum disorders. Focusing on the neurobiological and cognitive processes activated by autistic individuals during mathematical and calculatory tasks, we tried to delineate potential differences in calculatory thought among individuals with autism and individuals with typical development. Recent neuroimaging and cognitive studies propose that a particular cognitive pattern which seems to be present in people in the autistic spectrum could be beneficial for the emersion and the development of savant skills or â€œislets of skillsâ€ in the cognitive area of mathematics. Nevertheless, no firm conclusions can be drawn as to whether this cognitive pattern (which depends on the processes of episodic/ procedural and rote memory, implicit learning and visuo-spatial functions) serves as a predisposing factor for superior mathematical thought or if it could represent a mathematical ability of a superior cognitive level. However, it could be certainly supported that this particular cognitive pattern, could give rise to a special and different way of thinking, in comparison with the neurotypical individuals, as a result of differentiated connectivity, organization and function of the brain regions, where the limited interests, motives and persistent practice enhance the development of special skills.
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