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On the Difference Between Numerosity Processing and Number Processing

van Hoogmoed, A. H. & Kroesbergen, E. H., 12-Sep-2018, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 9, 13 p., 1650.

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The ANS theory on the processing of non-symbolic numerosities and the ANS mapping account on the processing of symbolic numbers have been the most popular theories on numerosity and number processing, respectively, in the last 20 years. Recently, both the ANS theory and the ANS mapping account have been questioned. In the current study, we examined two main assumptions of both the ANS theory and the ANS mapping account. ERPs were measured in 21 participants during four same-different matchto-sample tasks, involving non-symbolic stimuli, symbolic stimuli, or a combination of symbolic and non-symbolic stimuli (i.e., mapping tasks). We strictly controlled the visual features in the non-symbolic stimuli. Based on the ANS theory, one would expect an early distance effect for numerosity in the non-symbolic task. However, the results show no distance effect for numerosity. When analyzing the stimuli based on visual properties, an early distance effect for area subtended by the convex hull was found. This finding is in line with recent claims that the processing of non-symbolic stimuli may be dependent on the processing of visual properties instead of on numerosity (only). With regards to the processing of symbolic numbers, the ANS mapping account states that symbolic numbers are first mapped onto their non-symbolic representations before further processing, since the non-symbolic representation is at the basis of processing the symbolic number. If the non-symbolic format is the basic format of processing, one would expect that the processing of non-symbolic numerosities would not differ between purely non-symbolic tasks and mapping tasks, resulting in similar ERP waveforms for both tasks. Our results show that the processing of non-symbolic numerosities does differ between the tasks, indicating that processing of non-symbolic number is dependent on task format. This provides evidence against the ANS mapping account. Alternative theories for both the processing of non-symbolic numerosities and symbolic numbers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1650
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
Publication statusPublished - 12-Sep-2018

    Keywords

  • number processing, ERP, ANS mapping account, non-symbolic, quantity processing, visual properties, MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT, NUMERICAL DISTANCE, SYMBOLIC NUMBER, NONSYMBOLIC NUMBER, INFANTS, SYSTEM, SENSE, DISCRIMINATION, ASSOCIATION, MAGNITUDES

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