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Olsson, Linda
Publications (4 of 4) Show all publications
Träff, U., Olsson, L., Skagerlund, K. & Östergren, R. (2018). Cognitive mechanisms underlying third graders' arithmetic skills: Expanding the pathways to mathematics model.. Journal of experimental child psychology (Print), 167, 369-387
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cognitive mechanisms underlying third graders' arithmetic skills: Expanding the pathways to mathematics model.
2018 (English)In: Journal of experimental child psychology (Print), ISSN 0022-0965, E-ISSN 1096-0457, Vol. 167, p. 369-387Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A modified pathways to mathematics model was used to examine the cognitive mechanisms underlying arithmetic skills in third graders. A total of 269 children were assessed on tasks tapping the four pathways and arithmetic skills. A path analysis showed that symbolic number processing was directly supported by the linguistic and approximate quantitative pathways. The direct contribution from the four pathways to arithmetic proficiency varied; the linguistic pathway supported single-digit arithmetic and word problem solving, whereas the approximate quantitative pathway supported only multi-digit calculation. The spatial processing and verbal working memory pathways supported only arithmetic word problem solving. The notion of hierarchical levels of arithmetic was supported by the results, and the different levels were supported by different constellations of pathways. However, the strongest support to the hierarchical levels of arithmetic were provided by the proximal arithmetic skills.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018
Approximate quantitative pathway, Arithmetic, Linguistic pathway, Spatial processing pathway, Symbolic number processing, Verbal working memory pathway
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-144197 (URN)10.1016/j.jecp.2017.11.010 (DOI)000423652300024 ()29232622 (PubMedID)

Funding agencies: Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research [2008-0238]

Available from: 2018-01-10 Created: 2018-01-10 Last updated: 2018-02-21
Olsson, L. (2018). “Count on me!”: Mathematical development, developmental dyscalculia and computer-based intervention. (Doctoral dissertation). Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“Count on me!”: Mathematical development, developmental dyscalculia and computer-based intervention
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
”Räkna med mig!” : Matematisk utveckling, dyskalkyli och datorbaserad intervention
Abstract [en]

A “sense” of number can be found across species, yet only humans supplement it with exact and symbolic number, such as number words and digits. However, what abilities leads to successful or unsuccessful arithmetic proficiency is still debated. Furthermore, as the predictability between early understanding of math and later achievement is stronger than for other subjects, early deficits can cause significant later deficits. The purpose of the current thesis was to contribute to the description of what aspects of non-symbolic and symbolic processing leads to later successful or unsuccessful arithmetic proficiency, and to study the effects of different designs of computer-programs on pre-school class aged children. The cognitive mechanisms underlying symbolic number processing and different arithmetic skills were mapped to discover their contributions to children’s proficiency. Findings show that the non-symbolic system continues to contribute to arithmetic performance, and that the general cognitive abilities’ contributions might vary with development. Moreover, more advanced mathematical skills were supported by less advanced. In order to investigate the underlying core deficit in DD, performance was contrasted with an individually matched control group on general cognitive abilities. Findings indicate that DD children are impaired on both nonsymbolic and symbolic processing, the most impairment on the symbolic measures. Furthermore, the results indicated subgroups. In order to investigate the effects of early intervention, three theoretically different designs of computer programs, designed in accordance to hypotheses of number processing were compared to a passive control group. Results revealed that even brief, daily arithmetic training utilizing theoretically different designs impacted different aspects of symbolic processing. The presented findings indicate that the non-symbolic system is the foundation for the symbolic system, and that DD is caused by a non-symbolic deficit. The present thesis also adds evidence that formal arithmetic is founded on precise representations, rather than approximate.

Abstract [sv]

En ”känsla” för antal finns hos flera arter, men enbart människan berikar denna med ett exakt och symboliskt system, t.ex. siffror. Det debatteras dock fortfarande vilka kognitiva förmågor som leder till mer eller mindre lyckad aritmetisk förmåga. Förutsägbarheten mellan tidig förståelse och senare matematikförmåga är dessutom starkare än för andra skolämnen. Tidiga nedsättningar kan således orsaka senare signifikanta nedsättningar. Syftet med avhandlingen var att bidra till beskrivningen av vilka aspekter av icke-symboliskt och symboliskt processande som bidrar till aritmetisk förmåga, samt att studera effekterna av olika teoretiskt designade datorbaserade träningsprogram på förskoleklassbarn. De kognitiva mekanismerna som ligger till grund för symboliskt nummerprocessande och olika aritmetiska förmågor kartlades för att upptäcka deras respektive bidrag hos barn med relativt välutvecklade symboliska system. Fynden visar att det icke-symboliska systemet fortsätter att bidra till aritmetik, och att de domän-generella kognitiva förmågornas bidrag kan variera med utveckling. Därtill, mer avancerade matematiska förmågor stöddes av mindre avancerade. I syfte att undersöka dyskalkylis underliggande orsak jämfördes dessa barn med en kontrollgrupp, individuellt matchad på domän-generella kognitiva förmågor. Resultaten visar att barnen med dyskalkyli uppvisade nedsättning på såväl icke-symboliska som symboliska mått, men störst nedsättning på de symboliska. Därtill indikerade resultatet subgrupper. I syfte att undersöka effekterna av tidig intervention jämfördes tre datorprogram, olikt designade i enlighet med nummerprocessande, med en passiv kontrollgrupp. Till och med kort, daglig aritmetisk träning gav effekt. De teoretiskt olika datorprogrammen påverkade olika symboliska mått. Avhandlingen indikerar att det icke-symboliska systemet ligger till grund för det symboliska, och att dyskalkyli orsakas av en icke-symbolisk nedsättning. Avhandlingen stödjer att formell aritmetik grundas på exakta representationer, snarare än approximativa.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2018. p. 71
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 728Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 204
mathematical development, symbolic number processing, Approximate number system, developmental dyscalculia, computer-based intervention, matematisk utveckling, symboliskt nummerprocessande, Approximativa nummersystemet, dyskalkyli, datorbaserad intervention
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-144196 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-144196 (DOI)9789176854099 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-01-19, KEY1, Hus Key, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2018-01-10 Created: 2018-01-10 Last updated: 2019-09-26Bibliographically approved
Träff, U., Olsson, L., Östergren, R. & Skagerlund, K. (2017). Heterogeneity of developmental dyscalculia: Cases with different deficit profiles. Frontiers in Psychology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Heterogeneity of developmental dyscalculia: Cases with different deficit profiles
2017 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Context: The aim was to further understand the heterogeneity of  developmental dyscalculia (DD). Utilizing four children (8-9 year-old) performance was contrasted against predominant hypotheses of DD.

Case report: Despite showing similar mathematical deficits, these children showed remarkable interindividual variability regarding cognitive profile and deficits. Two cases were consistent with the approximate number system deficit account, and the general magnitude-processing deficit account. One case had an access deficit in combination with a general cognitive deficit. One cases suffered from general cognitive deficits only.

Conclusions: The results showed that DD cannot be attributed to a single explanatory factor. These findings support a multiple deficits account of DD and suggest that some cases have multiple deficits, whereas other cases have a single deficit. We discuss a previously proposed distinction between primary DD and secondary DD, and suggest hypotheses of dysfunctional neurocognitive correlates responsible for the displayed deficits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media, 2017
Developmental dyscalculia, symbolic number processing, non-symbolic number processing, time processing, spatial processing
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124666 (URN)10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02000 (DOI)000391102400001 ()

Funding agencies: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare [2008-0238, 2010-0078]

Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
Andersson, U., Skagerlund, K., Olsson, L. & Östergren, R. (2017). Pathways to arithmetic fact retrieval and percentage calculation in adolescents. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(4), 647-663
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pathways to arithmetic fact retrieval and percentage calculation in adolescents
2017 (English)In: British Journal of Educational Psychology, ISSN 0007-0998, E-ISSN 2044-8279, Vol. 87, no 4, p. 647-663Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Developing sufficient mathematical skills is a prerequisite to function adequately in society today. Given this, an important task is to increase our understanding regarding the cognitive mechanisms underlying young people's acquisition of early number skills and formal mathematical knowledge.


The purpose was to examine whether the pathways to mathematics model provides a valid account of the cognitive mechanisms underlying symbolic-number processing and mathematics in adolescents. The pathways model states that the three pathways should provide independent support to symbolic-number skill. Each pathway's unique contribution to formal mathematics varies depending on the complexity and demand of the tasks.


The study used a sample of 114 adolescents (71 girls). Their mean age was 14.60 years (SD = 1.00).


The adolescents were assessed on tests tapping the three pathways and general cognitive abilities (e.g., working memory). A structural equation path analysis was computed.


Symbolic-number comparison was predicted by the linguistic pathway, the quantitative pathway, and processing speed. The linguistic pathway, quantitative pathways, and symbolic-number comparison predicted arithmetic fact retrieval. The linguistic pathway, working memory, visual analogies, and symbolic-number comparison predicted percentage calculation.


There are both similarities and differences in the cognitive mechanisms underlying arithmetic fact retrieval and percentage calculation in adolescents. Adolescents’ symbolic-number processing, arithmetic fact retrieval, and percentage calculation continue to rely on the linguistic pathways, whereas the reliance upon the spatial pathway has ceased. The reliance upon the quantitative pathway varies depending on the task.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2017
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-142304 (URN)10.1111/bjep.12170 (DOI)000414970300009 ()2-s2.0-85021320856 (Scopus ID)
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Funding agencies: Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research [2010-0078]

Available from: 2017-10-25 Created: 2017-10-25 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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