Processing ordinality and quantity: The case of developmental dyscalculia

Orly Rubinsten, Dana Sury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to quantity processing, up to date, the nature of ordinality has received little attention from researchers despite the fact that both quantity and ordinality are embodied in numerical information. Here we ask if there are two separate core systems that lie at the foundations of numerical cognition: (1) the traditionally and well accepted numerical magnitude system but also (2) core system for representing ordinal information. We report two novel experiments of ordinal processing that explored the relation between ordinal and numerical information processing in typically developing adults and adults with developmental dyscalculia (DD). Participants made "ordered" or "non-ordered" judgments about 3 groups of dots (non-symbolic numerical stimuli; in Experiment 1) and 3 numbers (symbolic task: Experiment 2). In contrast to previous findings and arguments about quantity deficit in DD participants, when quantity and ordinality are dissociated (as in the current tasks), DD participants exhibited a normal ratio effect in the non-symbolic ordinal task. They did not show, however, the ordinality effect. Ordinality effect in DD appeared only when area and density were randomized, but only in the descending direction. In the symbolic task, the ordinality effect was modulated by ratio and direction in both groups. These findings suggest that there might be two separate cognitive representations of ordinal and quantity information and that linguistic knowledge may facilitate estimation of ordinal information.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24079
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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