Authors: Anna A. Matejko, Melanie Lozano, Nicole Schlosberg, Cameron McKay, Lucy Core, Cambria Revsine, Shelby N. Davis, Guinevere F. Eden.

Article: The relationship between phonological processing and arithmetic in children with learning disabilities.

Publication: Developmental Science (Wiley). e13294 2022 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.13294

[Full Text]


Phonological processing skills have not only been shown to be important for reading skills, but also for arithmetic skills. Specifically, previous research in typically developing children has suggested that phonological processing skills may be more closely related to arithmetic problems that are solved through fact retrieval (e.g., remembering the solution from memory) than procedural computation (e.g., counting). However, the relationship between phonological processing and arithmetic in children with learning disabilities (LDs) has not been investigated. Yet, understanding these relationships in children with LDs is especially important because it can help elucidate the cognitive underpinnings of math difficulties, explain why reading and math disabilities frequently co-occur, and provide information on which cognitive skills to target for interventions. In 63 children with LDs, we examined the relationship between different phonological processing skills (phonemic awareness, phonological memory, and rapid serial naming) and arithmetic. We distinguished between arithmetic problems that tend to be solved with fact retrieval versus procedural computation to determine whether phonological processing skills are differentially related to these two arithmetic processes. We found that phonemic awareness, but not phonological memory or rapid serial naming, was related to arithmetic fact retrieval. We also found no association between any phonological processing skills and procedural computation. These results converge with prior research in typically developing children and suggest that phonemic awareness is also related to arithmetic fact retrieval in children with LD. These results raise the possibility that phonemic awareness training might improve both reading and arithmetic fact retrieval skills.

Research Highlights

  • Relationships between phonological processing and various arithmetic skills were investigated in children with learning disabilities (LDs) for the first time.
  • We found phonemic awareness was related to arithmetic involving fact retrieval, but not to arithmetic involving procedural computation in LDs.
  • The results suggest that phonemic awareness is not only important to skilled reading, but also to some aspects of arithmetic.
  • These results raise the question of whether intervention in phonemic awareness might improve arithmetic fact retrieval skills.

Tagged as: dyscalculia, mathematics, phonological awareness, and phonological processing


Matejko, A. A., Lozano, M., Schlosberg, N., McKay, C., Core, L., Revsine, C., Davis, S. N., & Eden, G. F. (2022). The relationship between phonological processing and arithmetic in children with learning disabilities. Developmental Science, 00, e13294.

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