The development of numerosity estimation: Evidence for a linear number representation early in life

Janny C. Stapel*, Sabine Hunnius, Harold Bekkering, Oliver Lindemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies investigating the development of approximate number representations used the number-to-position task and reported evidence for a shift from a logarithmic to a linear representation of numerical magnitude with increasing age. However, this interpretation as well as the number-to-position method itself has been questioned recently. The current study tested 5-and 8-year-old children on a newly established numerosity production task to examine developmental changes in number representations and to test the idea of a representational shift. Modelling of the children's numerical estimations revealed that responses of the 8-year-old children approximate a simple positive linear relation between estimated and actual numbers. Interestingly, however, the estimations of the 5-year-old children were best described by a bilinear model reflecting a relatively accurate linear representation of small numbers and no apparent magnitude knowledge for large numbers. Taken together, our findings provide no support for a shift of mental representations from a logarithmic to a linear metric but rather suggest that the range of number words which are appropriately conceptualised and represented by linear analogue magnitude codes expands during development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-412
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2015

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor and Francis.


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