Roberto Arrighi, Giovanni Anobile, David C. Burr

Psychophysical evidence for a generalized number sense and it’s link with development of mathematical abilities

21 ST Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology

25-28/09/2019 Tenerife, Spain


Abstract: Most animals possess an ability to rapidly estimate numerosity, a capacity known as number sense. It has been suggested that in humans the number sense may serve as a start-up tool to develop symbolic math but many aspects of such process are still unclear. Here we will describe a series of psychophysical experiments, largely using adaptation techniques, which clearly demonstrate the existence of a truly generalize number sense. The mechanisms extend over space, time and sensory modality, and is closely linked with action. However, despite this high generality, we found that math abilities correlate positively with sensitivity for estimation and paired-comparisons of the numerosity of visual arrays of dots but not for sequences of flashes or sounds. Overall these results support the existence of a generalized number sense but also demonstrate a specific link between mathematics and spatial numerosity.