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Trends Cogn Sci. 2000 Feb;4(2):59-65.

Non-verbal numerical cognition: from reals to integers.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.

Abstract

Data on numerical processing by verbal (human) and non-verbal (animal and human) subjects are integrated by the hypothesis that a non-verbal counting process represents discrete (countable) quantities by means of magnitudes with scalar variability. These appear to be identical to the magnitudes that represent continuous (uncountable) quantities such as duration. The magnitudes representing countable quantity are generated by a discrete incrementing process, which defines next magnitudes and yields a discrete ordering. In the case of continuous quantities, the continuous accumulation process does not define next magnitudes, so the ordering is also continuous ('dense'). The magnitudes representing both countable and uncountable quantity are arithmetically combined in, for example, the computation of the income to be expected from a foraging patch. Thus, on the hypothesis presented here, the primitive machinery for arithmetic processing works with real numbers (magnitudes).

PMID:
10652523
[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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