Anobile G., Guerrini G., Burr D. C., Monti M., Del Lucchese B., Cicchini G. M.

Spontaneous Perception of Numerosity In Pre-Schoolers

21 ST Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology

25-28/09/2019 Tenerife Spain


Abstract: There is strong evidence that very young humans can process numerosity. However, as numerosity naturally correlates with many non-numerical magnitudes, the idea of a direct number-sense has been strongly criticised. Here we applied two different psychophysical paradigms to demonstrate the spontaneous perception of numerosity in a cohort of young preschool children. The results of both tasks showed that even at such an early developmental stage humans spontaneously base perceptual choices on numerosity, rather than area or density. Sensory precision in one of these numerosity tasks correlated well with math abilities in these young children. These results reinforce strongly the idea of a primary number-sense, and provide further evidence linking mathematical skills to the sensory precision of the spontaneous number-sense, rather than mechanisms involved in handling explicit numerosity judgements or extensive exposure to mathematical teaching.