Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Scott L. Decker

Abstract

Children with learning disabilities frequently have comorbid anxiety, with some experiencing Math Anxiety (MA). Presently, research on MA in children with a math learning disability (MLD) is limited, and there are no childhood electroencephalography (EEG) studies of MA exploring the neurobiological basis of MA. The current study sought (1) to examine the relationship between MA and math achievement, working memory (WM), and EEG variables; (2) to clarify the distinction between MA and MLD by controlling for GAD; and (3) to examine if WM mediates the relationship between MA and math achievement. The study included 30 children with MLD and 29 typical learners (N = 59), ages 7 to 12 years. Results suggest that MA decreases as math achievement increases, and that EEG coherence data is predictive of MA, where exploratory analyses identified frontal-posterior coherence as an important indicator of MA. Additionally, children with MLD had higher MA than typical learners, and when controlling for GAD, children with MLD had increased MA that typical learners did not experience. Thus, it appears that children with MLD have anxiety conditions specifically surrounding the skill of learning math. Finally, the relationship between MA and math achievement was partially mediated by WM. An increase in MA resulted in a decrease in WM, which in turn decreased math achievement. These findings have implications for improving our understanding of MA and directions for future research.

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