Numerical Cognition

Numbers touch our lives every day in ways we don’t realize. From the weather forecast to understanding health information. Because using and interpreting numbers is critical to navigating the world, we study the cognitive, developmental, and behavioral bases of numerical cognition

Below are some of the topics that we study

Quantity Representation

Numbers symbolize a quantity.  So, the symbol “5” represents fiveness – whatever that is!  We are studying how quantity is represented in the brain. It’s a complicated problem and it influences how you understand and learn about numbers.

Physical Similarity

We confuse the meaning of numbers all the time.  One of the reasons for our confusion is that number symbols look alike.  For example, a 5 looks a lot like a 6, but not very much like a 7.  We study how the physical similarity of number symbols influences our understanding of the quantities they symbolize. 

Number Line

We use number lines to teach kids about numbers.  We also use them to study how kids (and adults) understand numbers. Number lines are much more complicated than they seem.  We study the cognitive processes involved in completing a number line task.  We have even invented a new number line: the unbounded number.

Modeling Meaning

All of our work in numerical cognition is aimed at developing computational cognitive models of how we derive meaning from number symbols.

Is there a numerical cognition topic that you’re interested in?