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J Exp Child Psychol. 1999 Dec;74(4):286-308.

Extracting parity and magnitude from Arabic numerals: developmental changes in number processing and mental representation.

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U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Washington, DC 20208, USA.


Children from Grades 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 (7.8, 9.2, 9.8, 11.7, and 13. 6 years old, respectively) made speeded, bimanual parity (odd/even) judgments of the Arabic numerals 0-9. Analysis of response times indicated that from fourth grade on, parity information is retrieved directly from memory rather than being extracted by means of a mental calculation strategy. As early as Grade 3, children exhibited the SNARC (Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes) effect, where small numbers were responded to faster with the left hand than with the right hand, while the converse held true for large numbers. This finding, previously demonstrated only in adults, confirms that (a) children represent magnitude information in the form of a left-to-right oriented mental number line, and (b) this information is accessed obligatorily even when irrelevant. Finally, although the SNARC effect remained strong at Grade 4, it was attenuated at Grades 6 and 8 by a linguistic effect based on associations between the unmarked adjectives "even" and "right" and between the marked adjectives "odd" and "left."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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