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Cognition. 2002 Apr;83(3):B55-62.

Enumeration of collective entities by 5-month-old infants.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.


Recent findings suggest that infants are capable of distinguishing between different numbers of objects, and of performing simple arithmetical operations. But there is debate over whether these abilities result from capacities dedicated to numerical cognition, or whether infants succeed in such experiments through more general, non-numerical capacities, such as sensitivity to perceptual features or mechanisms of object tracking. We report here a study showing that 5-month-olds can determine the number of collective entities -- moving groups of items -- when non-numerical perceptual factors such as contour length, area, density, and others are strictly controlled. This suggests both that infants can represent number per se, and that their grasp of number is not limited to the domain of objects.

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