Spontaneous mapping of number and space in adults and young children

Cognition. 2009 Feb;110(2):198-207. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.11.003. Epub 2008 Dec 17.


Mature representations of space and number are connected to one another in ways suggestive of a 'mental number line', but this mapping could either be a cultural construction or a reflection of a more fundamental link between the domains of number and geometry. Using a manual bisection paradigm, we tested for number line representations in adults, young school children, and preschool children. Non-symbolic numerical displays systematically distorted localization of the midpoint of a horizontal line at all three ages. Numerical and spatial representations therefore are linked prior to the onset of formal instruction, in a manner that suggests a privileged relation between spatial and numerical cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / psychology
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult