Reference : Assessing the Approximate Number System: no relation between numerical comparison and...
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Neurosciences & behavior
Assessing the Approximate Number System: no relation between numerical comparison and estimation tasks
Guillaume, Mathieu mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
Gevers, Wim []
Content, Alain []
Psychological Research
Springer Science & Business Media
Yes (verified by ORBilu)
[en] Whether our general numerical skills and the mathematical knowledge that we acquire at school are entwined is a debated issue, which many researchers are still striving to investigate. The findings reported in the literature are actually inconsistent; some studies emphasised the existence of a relationship between the acuity of the Approximate Number System (ANS) and arithmetic competence, while some others did not observe any significant correlation. One potential explanation of the discrepancy might stem from the evaluation of the ANS itself. In the present study, we correlated two measures used to index ANS acuity with arithmetic performance. These measures were the Weber fraction (w), computed from a numerical comparison task and the Coefficient of Variation (CV), computed from a numerical estimation task. Arithmetic performance correlated with estimation CV but not with comparison w. We further investigated the meaning of this result by taking the relationship between w and CV into account. We expected a tight relation as both these measures are believed to assess ANS acuity. Crucially however, w and CV did not correlate with each other. Moreover, the value of w was modulated by the congruity of the relation between numerical magnitude and non-numerical visual cues, potentially accounting for the lack of correlation between the measures. Our findings thus challenge the overuse of w to assess ANS acuity and more generally put into question the relevance of correlating this measure with arithmetic without any deeper understanding of what they are really indexing.

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