The role of the ANS in children

The Approximate Number System (ANS) is assumed to account for several phenomena not only in adults but also in children. Here, we investigate a few key properties of this assumed role.

We note again here that according to our other line of research, ANS is not a fundamental system in symbolic number processing, and many phenomena that have been attributed to the ANS are backed up by a discrete representation. However, nonsymbolic numbers are processed primarily by the ANS, and it is possible that this nonsymbolic ANS affects symbolic number processing, even if its effect can not be overwhelming, as assumed in the original ANS model. See more details about our alternative DSS account here.

The role of the ANS in subset-knowers

It has been proposed that the ANS may partially or entirely lead the number knowledge acquisition in subset-knowers: As the sensitivity of the ANS improves, children may be able to differentiate larger and larger values, and they can learn the meaning of the first few number words. Although this idea has been introduced and tested in the literature, some key features of this account were underspecified.

In this work, we extended the previously underspecified account and assembled the related details and parameters to create a more comprehensive description of this account. Based on this description, we found that the ANS cannot be the leading factor in acquiring the first symbolic numbers.

Krajcsi, A., Fedele, M., & Reynvoet, B. (2023). The approximate number system cannot be the leading factor in the acquisition of the first symbolic numbers. Cognitive Development, 65, 101285.

Find a presentation about this work.

Find the Python script for the calculations and animation.

Measuring the ANS in children

The measurement of the ANS has long been debated in the literature. For example, see the comprehensive summary of Dietrch et al. (2015).

In a recent work, we reviewed the issues specific to measurements with young children.

Find more about this work on our ANS measurement project page.