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Impact of High Mathematics Education on the Number Sense

Authors
Journal
PLoS ONE
1932-6203
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
Volume
7
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033832
Keywords
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cognition
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Mental Health
  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Human Intelligence
  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Social And Behavioral Sciences
Disciplines
  • Education
  • Mathematics

Abstract

In adult number processing two mechanisms are commonly used: approximate estimation of quantity and exact calculation. While the former relies on the approximate number sense (ANS) which we share with animals and preverbal infants, the latter has been proposed to rely on an exact number system (ENS) which develops later in life following the acquisition of symbolic number knowledge. The current study investigated the influence of high level math education on the ANS and the ENS. Our results showed that the precision of non-symbolic quantity representation was not significantly altered by high level math education. However, performance in a symbolic number comparison task as well as the ability to map accurately between symbolic and non-symbolic quantities was significantly better the higher mathematics achievement. Our findings suggest that high level math education in adults shows little influence on their ANS, but it seems to be associated with a better anchored ENS and better mapping abilities between ENS and ANS.

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