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Psychol Sci. 2004 Nov;15(11):776-81.

Large-number addition and subtraction by 9-month-old infants.

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Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


Do genuinely numerical computational abilities exist in infancy? It has recently been argued that previous studies putatively illustrating infants' ability to add and subtract tapped into specialized object-tracking processes that apply only with small numbers. This argument contrasts with the original interpretation that successful performance was achieved via a numerical system for estimating and calculating magnitudes. Here, we report that when continuous variables (such as area and contour length) are controlled, 9-month-old infants successfully add and subtract over numbers of items that exceed object-tracking limits. These results support the theory that infants possess a magnitude-based estimation system for representing numerosities that also supports procedures for numerical computation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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