College of Education and Human Development

Institute of Child Development

Michele Mazzocco

  • Pronouns: she, her, hers

  • Professor

Michele Mazzocco

Areas of interest

Cognitive development; Early childhood; Early childhood education; Learning; Numerical cognition


PhD, 1988, Arizona State University


Cognitive development; individual differences and development of numeracy skills and number concepts in children; mathematical cognition in children and adults; influences on mathematics achievement; cognitive underpinnings of mathematics learning disabilities; lexical ambiguity.

The Math and Numeracy Lab


The Math and Numeracy Lab


My graduate training in experimental psychology and early childhood education focused on typical cognitive development, whereas during my postdoctoral training in developmental neuropsychology, I focused on the constraints learning disabilities impose on learning and academic achievement.

My research interests focus primarily on individual differences in cognition and how these differences affect the development and function of problem solving behaviors. I am particularly interested in the development of numeracy skills, how those and other cognitive skills interact to affect and predict long-term mathematics achievement outcomes, and how pathways to mathematical learning differ across students progressing at very different achievement levels. These interests extend to determining how these cognitive abilities or skills can be assessed in a meaningful way, and how numeracy skills can be optimized in formal and informal environments.

Currently, I am examining individual differences in early number concepts and how the nature of these concepts may reflect or shape numerical abilities or mathematical learning during the preschool to early school age years; whether children or adults’ individual differences in numeracy skills are specific or related to non-numerical problem solving; and different manifestations of automaticity in number processing throughout development. While pursuing new studies, I continue to analyze data from a long-term completed longitudinal study of students who I followed from kindergarten to high school, to evaluate the nature and consequences of their early mathematical learning difficulties. Finally, my work extends to identifying the role of learning materials on early mathematical thinking and learning, contextual influences on young children’s attention to numerical information in general, and the relation between language comprehension, executive function, and early number concept development.

I am also interested in the development of metacognition in childhood, particularly as it relates to dealing with lexical ambiguity, numeracy, and other problem solving behaviors.

I am an Investigator/Member of two collaborative research networks. Through the Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education Network (DREME), funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation, I study the influences of parent and caregiver engagement on young children’s mathematical thinking, and the relation between executive function and mathematical skills. Through the Early Learning Research Network, headed by Carol Connor at the University of California-Irvine and funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, I lead the development of a mathematics assessment to be included in practitioner-based measure designed to optimize learning opportunities for young students.

Effective 2015, I am an inaugural member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Numerical Cognition.

Graduate student opportunities include experimental and observational studies with preschool to school age children, or experimental studies with adults, focused on numerical cognition, mathematics anxiety, and contributions to math learning abilities difficulties. Our emphasis is on individual differences, including differences that may manifest as learning disabilities.

Advising expectations and availability

If you are a prospective graduate student who is interested in working with Dr. Mazzocco, click here to review her advising expectations. The document outlines what you can expect from Dr. Mazzocco as an advisor/mentor and provides an overview of Dr. Mazzocco's expectations of students. Expectations for both the child psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota and the Math and Numeracy Lab can be found here.

Please note that for the 2024 admissions cycle Dr. Mazzocco is looking to take on new Ph.D. students as their primary advisor. Please reach out to Dr. Mazzocco via email if you are interested in learning more.


*Student author

*Chan, J. Y. C., Sera, M. D., & Mazzocco, M. M. (2022). Relational language influences young children’s number relation skills. Child Development, 93 (4), 956-972.

Li, T., Quintero, M., Galvan, M., Shanafelt, S., Hasty, L.M., Spangler, D.P., Lyons, I.M., Mazzocco, M.M., Brockmole, J.R., Hart, S.A. and Wang, Z., (2022). The mediating role of attention in the association between math anxiety and math performance: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Educational Psychology.

*Chan, J. Y. C., & Mazzocco, M. M. (2021). Integrating qualitative and quantitative methods to develop a comprehensive coding manual: Measuring attention to mathematics in play contexts. Methods in Psychology4, 100044.

Mazzocco, M. M., Chan, J. Y. C., Bye, J. K., Padrutt, E. R., Praus-Singh, T., Lukowski, S., ... & Olson, R. E. (2020). Attention to numerosity varies across individuals and task contexts. Mathematical Thinking and Learning22(4), 258-280.

*Lukowski, S. L., *Padrutt, E. R., Sarafoglou, K., Ross, J. L., Law, J. R., *Olson, R. E., & Mazzocco, M. M. (2020). Variation in early number skills and mathematics achievement: Implications from cognitive profiles of children with or without Turner syndrome. PloS one15(10), e0239224.

*Wood, T., Mazzocco, M. M., Calhoon, M. B., Crowe, E. C., & Connor, C. M. (2020). The effect of peer-assisted mathematics learning opportunities in first grade classrooms: What works for whom?. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 13(4), 601-624.

McMullen, J., *Chan, J. Y. C., Mazzocco, M. M., & Hannula-Sormunen, M. M. (2019). Spontaneous mathematical focusing tendencies in mathematical development and education. In Constructing number (pp. 69-86). Springer, Cham.

Connor, C. M., Mazzocco, M. M. M., Kurz, T., Crowe, E. C., Tighe, E. L., Wood, T. S., & Morrison, F. J. (2018). Using assessment to individualize mathematics instruction. Journal of School Psychology, 66, 97–113.

*Chan, J.Y.C., & Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2017). Competing features influence children’s attention to number. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 156, 62-81.

Lukowski, S.L., DiTrapani, J., Jeon, M., Wang, Z., Schenker, V.J., Doran, M.M., Hart, S.A., Mazzocco, M.M., Willcutt, E.G., Thompson, L.A. and Petrill, S.A., (2017). Multidimensionality in the measurement of math-specific anxiety and its relationship with mathematical performance. Learning and Individual Differences, in press.

*Ward, J., Mazzocco, M. M., *Bock, A. M., & *Prokes, N. (2017). Are content and structural features of counting books aligned with research on numeracy development? Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 39, 47-63.

Tosto, M. Asbury, K., Mazzocco M.M.M., Petrill, S., Kovas, Y. (2016). From classroom environment to mathematical achievement: The mediating role of self-perceived ability and subject interest. Learning and Individual Differences

*Brown, E.C., Mazzocco, M.M., Rinne, L.F., & *Scanlon, N.S. (2016). Uncanny sums and products may prompt wise choices: Semantic misalignment and numerical judgments. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 2(2), 116–139, doi:10.5964/jnc.v2i2.21

Grimm, K.J., Mazza, G., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2016) Advances in methods for assessing longitudinal change. Educational Psychologist, 51(3-4), 342-353.

Mazzocco, M.M. (2016). A note on visual-constructional deficit in Turner’s syndrome. Money, J., Alexander, D., Eherhardt, A. J Pediatr 1966; 69(1):126-127. Journal of Pediatrics

Mazzocco, M.M. (2016). Mathematics awareness month: Why should pediatricians be aware of mathematics and numeracy? Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(3), 251-253.

Alcock, L., Ansari, D., Batechelor, S., Bison, M., De Smedt, B., Gilmore, C., Göbel, S., Hannula-Sormunen, M, Hodgen, J., Inglis, M., Jones, I., Mazzocco, M., McNeil, N., Scheider, M., Simms, V., & Weber, K. (2015). Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Journal of Numerical Cognition. Vol. 2(1), 20–41, doi:10.5964/jnc.v2i1.10

Wang, Z. Lukowski,  S.L., Hart, S.A., Lyons, I. M., Thompson, L.A., Kovas, Y., Mazzocco, M. M., Plomin, R. & Petrill, S. A. (2015). Is Mathematical Anxiety Always Bad for Math Learning:  The Role of Math Motivation.  Psychological Science, 26(12) 1863–1876.

Rinne, L., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2014). Knowing Right From Wrong in Mental Arithmetic Judgments: Calibration of Confidence Predicts the Development of Accuracy, PLoS ONE 9(7): e98663. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098663.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. Murphy, M.M., Brown, E.C., Rinne, L., & Herold, K.H.  Persistent consequences of atypical early number concepts (2013).  Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 4:486. 

Kaufmann, L., Mazzocco, M.M.M., Dowker, A., von Aster, M., Goebel, S., Grabner, R., Henik, A., Jordan, N.C., Karmiloff-Smith, A.D., Kucian, K., Rubinsten, O., Szucs, D., Shalev, R.,  Nuerk, H (2013).  Dyscalculia from a developmental and differential perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, article 516.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., & Räsänen, P. (2013). Contributions of longitudinal studies to evolving definitions and knowledge of developmental dyscalculia. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 2, 65-73.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. & Grimm, K. (2013).  Growth in Rapid Automatized Naming From Grades K to 8 in Children with Math or Reading Disabilities.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 46(6), 517-533.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., Myers, G.F., *Lewis, K.E., Hanich, L.B., & Murphy, M.M. (2013). Limited knowledge of fraction representations differentiates middle school students with mathematics learning disability (dyscalculia) vs. low mathematics achievement. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115, 371-87. 

Grimm, K., Zhang, Z., Hamagami, F., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2013). Modeling nonlinear change via latent change and latent acceleration frameworks: examining velocity and acceleration of growth trajectories. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 48:1, 117-143,

Price, G.R., Mazzocco, M.M.M., &  Ansari, D. (2013). Why Mental Arithmetic Counts: Brain activation during single digit arithmetic predicts high-school math scores. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(1):156 –163.

Matejko, A.A., Price, G.R., Mazzocco, M. M.M., & Ansari, D. (2013). Individual differences in left parietal white matter predict math scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. NeuroImage, 66, 604-610.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., Hanich, L.B., & Noeder, M. (2012). Primary School Age Students' Spontaneous Comments about Math Reveal Emerging Dispositions Linked to Later Mathematics Achievement, Child Development Research, vol. 2012, Article ID 170310, 12 pp, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/170310.

*Raches, D., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2012) Emergence and trajectory of mathematical difficulties in young children with Barth syndrome. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 33, 328-335.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., Feigenson, L., & Halberda, J. (2011). Preschoolers’ Precision of the Approximate Number System Predicts Later School Mathematics Performance.  PLoS One  DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0023749.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., Feigenson L., & Halberda, J. (2011). Impaired acuity of the approximate number system underlies mathematical learning disability.  Child Development, 82, 1224-1237.

Hale, J. & Expert White Paper Consensus groupa. (2010). Critical issues in response-to-intervention, comprehensive evaluation, and specific learning disabilities identification and intervention: An expert white paper consensus. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 33, 223-236.

Mazzocco, M. M. M., & Hanich, L. B. (2010). Math achievement, numerical processing, and executive functions in girls with Turner syndrome: Do girls with Turner syndrome have math learning disability? Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 70-81.

Ross, J. L., Mazzocco, M.M.M., Kushner, H., Kowal, K., Cutler, G.B., Jr, Roeltgen, D. (2009). Effects of treatment with oxandrolone for 4 years on the frequency of severe arithmetic learning disability in girls with Turner syndrome, Journal of Pediatrics, 155(5):714-20.

*Murphy, M. M., & Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2009). The trajectory of mathematics skills and working memory thresholds in girls with fragile X syndrome. Cognitive Development, 24, 430-449.

Mazzocco, M. M. (2009). Mathematical learning disabilities. The Maryland Psychologist, 55 (2), 9-14.

Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2009). Mathematical learning disability in girls with Turner syndrome: A challenge to defining MLD and its subtypes. Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 15, 35-44.

Dennis, M., Berch, D. B., & Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2009). Mathematical learning disabilities in special populations: Phenotypic variation and cross-disorder comparisons. Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 15, 80-89.

Halberda, J., Mazzocco, M.M.M., & Feigenson, L. (2008).  Individual differences in non-verbal number acuity correlate with maths achievement.  Nature. 455(2):665-668.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., & *Devlin, K.T. (2008). Parts and ‘holes’: Gaps in rational number sense in children with vs. without mathematical learning disability. Developmental Science. 11:681-691.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., *Devlin, K.T., & *McKenney, J.L. (2008). Is it a fact? Timed arithmetic performance of children with mathematical learning disabilities (MLD) varies as a function of how MLD is defined. Developmental Neuropsychology. 33:318-344

*Murphy, M.M., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2008). Rote numeric skills may mask underlying mathematical disabilities in girls with fragile X syndrome. Developmental Neuropsychology. 33:345-364.

*Murphy, M.M., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2008). Mathematics learning disability in girls with fragile X or Turner syndrome during late elementary school. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 41:29-46.

*Roberts, J., Mazzocco M. M. M., *Murphy M. M., & Hoehn-Saric R. (2008). Arousal Modulation in Females with Fragile X or Turner Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 38:20-27.

View publications from 1997-2007.

Selected Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries

Mazzocco M.M.M., Chan, JY, & Sera, M. (2016). Contextual sensitivity in young children's magnitude judgments: When is bigger really more? in (Henik, Ed) Continuous Issues in Numerical Cognition, Elsevier. pp 82-105.

Mazzocco M.M.M., Quintero, A., Murphy, M.M., & McCloskey M. (2016). Genetic Syndromes as Model Pathways to Mathematical Learning Difficulties: Fragile X, Turner, and 22q deletion syndromes. In Berch, Geary, & Mann-Koepke (Eds) Mathematical Cognition and Learning Series, Volume 2: Neural Substrates and Genetic Influences, Elsevier, pp. 325-357.

Mazzocco M.M.M. (2015). The Contributions of Syndrome Research to the study of dyscalculia. in Kadosh and Dowker (Eds), Handbook of Numerical Cognition, Oxford University Press, pp 678-695.

Berch, D.B., & Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2011). Turner Syndrome. In J Kreutzer, J DeLuca, & B Caplan (Eds), Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology. New York, NY: Springer


Mazzocco, M. (2016, October 8). Mathematics and Executive Functions Skills. Sixth Annual meeting of DanSMa (Dansk Special Matematik, or the Association of Danish Special Mathematics) in Hvalsø, Denmark.

Presentation Citation: Mazzocco, M. (2016, October 8).  Early number concepts and misconceptions.  Sixth Annual meeting of DanSMa (Dansk Special Matematik, or the Association of Danish Special Mathematics) in Hvalsø, Denmark.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2015, October 9). Sources of Mathematics Learning Difficulties in School Age Children. Invited presentation at the 34th Tri-Association Meeting in Bogota, Colombia.

Mazzocco, M.M.M, Chan, Y.C.J., & Praus, T. (March 19, 2015). Children's Judgments of Numbers in Context Reveal Their Emerging Number Concepts. Presented at the SRCD Biennial Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mazzocco, M. (April 24, 2014). Invited presentation: Mathematical Learning Difficulties in School Age Children. West Virginia Association of School Psychologists Annual Meeting, Charleston, WV

Mazzocco, M. (2014, April 23).  Early Mathematical Thinking. Presented at the CEED CLASS Observation Training Meeting, Monticello, MN.

Mazzocco, M. (2014, February 19). Dyscalculia and other mathematical learning difficulties in school-age children. Invited Workshop presented at the National Association of School Psychologists, Washington, D.C.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2013, November 8). Mathematical learning difficulties and disabilities in school age children. Invited Presentation at the British Columbia Association of School Psychologists Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mazzocco, Michele M. (2013, October 24). Mathematical learning difficulties and disabilities in school age children. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the New York Association of School Psychologists in White Plains, New York.

Mazzocco, M.M.M (2013, September 14). Come la discalculia si differenzia da altre difficolta in matematica.  (How dyscalculia differs from other forms of mathematics learning difficulties.) Plenary presentation presented at  I Disturbi Specifici dell'Apprendimento e i Bisogni Educativi Speciali: screening, diagnosi e intervento (Specific Learning Disabilities and special educational needs: Screening, diagnosis, and intervention), Troina, Sicily, Italy.

Mazzocco, M. (2013, July 26). Individual differences in numerical & executive function skills contribute to variation in children's arithmetic computation. Presented at the first Annual Midwestern Meeting of Mathematical Thinking in Minneapolis, MN.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2013, June 12-13) Numeracy and Mathematics Achievement in School Age Children. Presented at the Punahou School 4th Annual Brain Symposium, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Mazzocco, M.M.M., & Herold, K. (2013, March 13). Mathematics in Early Childhood. Presented at the 2013 Minnesota Head Start Conference in Saint Paul, MN.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2013, February 12).  Mathematical Learning Difficulties in School Age Children. Invited Presentation at National Association of School Psychologists Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA.

Mazzocco, M.M.M. (2012, November 17). Similarities and Differences Across Math Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. Presented at the 33rd annual Learning & the Brain Conference, Boston, MA.

Mazzocco, M.M.M.  (2012, November 9). Mathematical Learning Disabilities and Other Obstacles to Mathematics Achievement. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Ohio School Psychologists Association, Columbus, Ohio.

Mazzocco, Michele M.M.M. (2012, October 24). How longitudinal Studies Inform Evolving Definitions of Mathematics Learning Disabilities.  In M. Mazzocco (Chair), Dyscalculia and other mathematics learning difficulties. Symposium conducted at the International Dyslexia Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD.

Mazzocco, Michele M. M. M. (2012, September 14). Invited Presentation at the first Cambridge Conference and Workshop on Developmental Dyscalculia,  sponsored by the Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Department of Psychology, Cambridge, UK, held at St John's College, Cambridge.