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URPP Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning (AdaBD)

NumRisk - Neural origins of disrupted magnitude processing and risk taking in dyscalculia

Research project

Dyscalculia is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that majorly affects numerical competence and thereby life success and well-being of the affected individuals. Despite the prevalence and importance of this disorder, we know very little about its neural origins and exact behavioral consequences. Here, we employ a combination of novel experimental tasks, behavioral modelling, and sophisticated fMRI approaches, to investigate the precision with which the brains of adolescents diagnosed with dyscalculia represent abstract magnitude information, and how this affects their risk-taking behavior in financial decisions with real-life consequences. Thus, our project provides important knowledge about disrupted brain mechanisms in dyscalculia and how these may contribute to everyday behavioral problems.


This project links learning behavior to neural circuit function to eventually advance developmental delay diagnosis and to design innovative treatment strategies. We will generate mechanistic insight into the specific neural dysfunction in dyscalculia, investigate some real-life behavioral consequences, and directly pave the way for novel diagnostic and therapeutic measures like behavioral assays and brain stimulation. Moreover, the project closely interacts with the HDDA-platform of our URPP to further develop the software DataSpace.

We are looking for study participants

We are currently looking for participants between 15 and 23 years of age without (control group) or with dyscalculia. The visit at our lab in the University Hospital Zurich lasts about 3.5 hours and includes an MRI scan. For more information or registration, please contact us.

Research groups

Principal investigators: Christian Ruff, Karin Kucian, Silvia Brem

Postdoc: Gilles de Hollander

PhD student: Maike Renkert


Barretto-García M, de Hollander G, Grueschow M, Polanía R, Woodford M, Ruff CC (2023) Individual risk attitudes arise from noise in neurocognitive magnitude representations Nature Human Behavior

Underlined: AdaBD researchers