This review study is concerned with the structure and mutual relationships of the cognitive abilities that are projected into one of the most important fields of education – mathematics. It presents a view from two different but mutually complementary angles: the perspectives of neuropsychology and cognitive psychology. In both cases apart from normal functioning we pay particular attention to deviations from the norm, in the sense of both exceptional mathematical talent and cognitive deficit.
In the section on neuropsychology we look primarily at the question of modularity, i.e. the extent to which the individual different capabilities necessary for mathematical thinking are secured by relatively independent neuronal subsystems. We also present information on the localisation of these subsystems. We then consider the relationship between mathematical talent and the organisation of CNS on the complex level from the point of view of hemispheric specialisation, hemispheric asymmetry and the mutual communication of the two brain hemispheres in the course of tackling demanding tasks.
In the section devoted to cognitive approaches we first and foremost describe the PASS theory and the four main cognitive processes with which this theory works, and reflect on the potential implications of this theory for the teaching of mathematics. We then present an alternative view of the theory of diverse intelligences often used in Czech pedagogic practice. Although according to its author H. Gardner this theory has inter alia a neurocognitive base, in the light of recent studies it does not seem sufficiently empirically grounded and we therefore discuss its use in teaching in a critical spirit.
In conclusion the study seeks to summarise and evaluated the results of the findings presented for educational practice.