Indexing the approximate number system
Much recent research attention has focused on understanding individual differences in the Approximate Number System, a cognitive system believed to underlie human mathematical competence. To date researchers have used four main indices of ANS acuity, and have typically assumed that they measure similar properties. Here we report a study which questions this assumption. We demonstrate that the Numerical Ratio Effect has poor testretest reliability and that it does not relate to either Weber fractions or accuracy on nonsymbolic comparison tasks. Furthermore, we show that Weber fractions follow a strongly skewed distribution and that they have lower test-retest reliability than a simple accuracy measure. We conclude by arguing that in future researchers interested in indexing individual differences in ANS acuity should use accuracy figures, not Weber fractions or Numerical Ratio Effects.
- Mathematics Education Centre