However, leading research into the specific learning disability called developmental dyscalculia, dubbed “number blindness”, shows that being unable to put two and two together is down to biology – not poor education, low intelligence or lack of effort.
Dyscalculia is the topic of a free public lecture hosted by the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and UQ’s School of Psychology on Friday 18 February at UQ’s St Lucia campus.
The lecture, The Science of Failing to Learn Arithmetic, will be presented by one of the world’s great maths evangelists and author of The Mathematical Brain – cognitive neuropsychologist Professor Brian Butterworth from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.
According to Professor Butterworth, dyscalculia is at least as prevalent as dyslexia, or “word blindness”, and possibly more disruptive to life outcomes.
However, the hidden nature of this disorder means it remains little-recognised and poorly-understood.
“It’s about as common as dyslexia and affects approximately three to six per cent of the school-aged population. So that means one child in each class is probably going to be dyscalculatic on average.
“Recent research has identified differences in the brains of dyscalculatic learners, suggesting that there is a core deficit in the ability to represent even very simple number concepts,” Professor Brian Butterworth said.
Professor Butterworth will discuss recent research that identifies the causes preventing sufferers from understanding basic mathematical problems.
Uncovering the different manifestations of this deficit not only allows those with the disorder to be identified, but also offers an opportunity to help sufferers learn maths using structured teaching and adaptive software, a program that was developed by Professor Butterworth.
About the presenter:
Brian Butterworth is Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London (UCL), of which he was a founding member.
In 2007, he co-founded the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, a collaboration of UCL with the Institute of Education and Birkbeck College.
His recent research has focused on the neural and genetic basis of numerical abilities, and on how to help learners who struggle with arithmetic.
Friday 18 February, 2011
7pm -8pm: Public Talk, 8pm – 9pm: Drinks and canapés, and an opportunity to ask Brian questions in an informal setting.
Queensland Brain Institute Auditorium, Queensland Brain Institute, Building #79, Upland Road, The University of Queensland, St Lucia campus.
RSVP: Tuesday 15 February to Dot Bathgate via phone: 3365 6220 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Media: Melinda Kopanakis, UQ’s Social and Behavioural Sciences Marketing and Communications Manager. Ph 3365 8820 or email email@example.com
Or Denise Cullen, QBI’s Executive Communications Office. Ph 3346 6434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org