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Measuring the approximate number system in children: exploring the relationships among different tasks

journal contribution
posted on 11.12.2013, 12:56 authored by Camilla GilmoreCamilla Gilmore, Nina Attridge, Bert De Smedt, Matthew InglisMatthew Inglis
Research has demonstrated that children and adults have an Approximate Number System (ANS) which allows individuals to represent and manipulate the representations of the approximate number of items within a set. It has been suggested that individual differences in the precision of the ANS are related to individual differences in mathematics achievement. One difficulty with understanding the role of the ANS, however, is a lack of consistency across studies in tasks used to measure ANS performance. Researchers have used symbolic or nonsymbolic comparison and addition tasks with varying types and sizes of stimuli. Recent studies with adult participants have shown that performance on different ANS tasks is unrelated. Across two studies we demonstrate that, in contrast to adults, children's performance across different ANS tasks, such as symbolic and nonsymbolic comparison or approximate addition, is related. These findings suggest that there are differences across development in the extent to which performance on nonsymbolic and symbolic tasks reflects ANS precision.


Study 2 was funded by a small research grant from the British Academy awarded to CG and BDS. CG is supported by a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship and MI is supported by a Royal Society Worshipful Company of Actuaries Education Research Fellowship.



  • Science


  • Mathematics Education Centre


GILMORE, C. ... et al, 2014. Measuring the approximate number system in children: exploring the relationships among different tasks. Learning and Individual Differences, 29, pp.50-58.


© Elsevier


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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Learning and Individual Differences. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published at:







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