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Psychol Sci. 2010 May;21(5):653-60. doi: 10.1177/0956797610366091. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Number-space mapping in human infants.

Author information

1
Laboratory for Developmental Studies, William James Hall, 11th Floor, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland St., Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. dehevia@wjh.harvard.edu

Abstract

Mature representations of number are built on a core system of numerical representation that connects to spatial representations in the form of a mental number line. The core number system is functional in early infancy, but little is known about the origins of the mapping of numbers onto space. In this article, we show that preverbal infants transfer the discrimination of an ordered series of numerosities to the discrimination of an ordered series of line lengths. Moreover, infants construct relationships between numbers and line lengths when they are habituated to unordered pairings that vary positively, but not when they are habituated to unordered pairings that vary inversely. These findings provide evidence that a predisposition to relate representations of numerical magnitude to spatial length develops early in life. A central foundation of mathematics, science, and technology therefore emerges prior to experience with language, symbol systems, or measurement devices.

PMID:
20483843
PMCID:
PMC3129621
DOI:
10.1177/0956797610366091
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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