Magnitude processing in non-symbolic stimuli

Tali Leibovich, Avishai Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dot arrays are often used to study basic numerical skills across cultures, species and development. Researchers investigate the ability of subjects to discriminate between dot arrays, as a function of the ratio or distance between their numerosities. Such studies have contributed significantly to the number sense theory (i.e., that humans are born with the ability to process numerosities, and share this ability with various species)—possibly the most influential theory in numerical cognition literature today. However, a dot array contains, in addition to numerosity, continuous properties such as the total surface area of the dots, their density, etc. These properties are highly correlated with numerosity and therefore might influence participants’ performance. Different ways in which different studies choose to deal with this confound sometimes lead to contradicting results, and in our opinion, do not completely eliminate the confound. In this work, we review these studies and suggest several possible reasons for the contradictions in the literature. We also suggest that studying continuous properties, instead of just trying to control them, may contribute to unraveling the building blocks of numerical abilities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Article number375
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive Processes
  • Magnitude Estimation
  • Mathematical Ability
  • Numerosity Perception
  • Stimulus Parameters


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