Spatial order relates to the exact numerical magnitude of digits in young children

Francesco Sella, Daniela Lucangeli, Marco Zorzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Spatial representation of numbers has been repeatedly associated with the development of numerical and mathematical skills. However, few studies have explored the contribution of spatial mapping to exact number representation in young children. Here we designed a novel task that allows a detailed analysis of direction, ordinality, and accuracy of spatial mapping. Preschool children, who were classified as competent counters (cardinal principle knowers), placed triplets of sequentially presented digits on the visual line. The ability to correctly order triplets tended to decrease with the larger digits. When triplets were correctly ordered, the direction of spatial mapping was predominantly oriented from left to right and the positioning of the target digits was characterized by a pattern of underestimation with no evidence of logarithmic compression. Crucially, only ordinality was associated with performance in a digit comparison task. Our results suggest that the spatial (ordinal) arrangement of digits is a powerful source of information that young children can use to construct the representation of exact numbers. Therefore, digits may acquire numerical meaning based on their spatial order on the number line.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-404
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume178
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019

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Preschool Children
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Keywords

  • Cardinality principle
  • Numerical cognition
  • Preschool children
  • Spatial mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Spatial order relates to the exact numerical magnitude of digits in young children. / Sella, Francesco; Lucangeli, Daniela; Zorzi, Marco.

In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 178, 01.02.2019, p. 385-404.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sella, Francesco ; Lucangeli, Daniela ; Zorzi, Marco. / Spatial order relates to the exact numerical magnitude of digits in young children. In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2019 ; Vol. 178. pp. 385-404.
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