Reconceptualizing the origins of number knowledge: A "non-numerical" account

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163 Scopus citations


This paper presents a new conceptualization of the origins of numerical competence in humans. I first examine the existing claim that infants are innately provided with a system of specifically numerical knowledge, consisting of both cardinal and ordinal concepts. I suggest instead that the observed behaviors require only simple perceptual discriminations based on domain-independent competencies. At most, these involve the formal equivalent of cardinal information. Finally, I present a "non-numerical" account that characterizes infants competencies with regard to numerosity as emerging primarily from some general characteristics of the human perception and attention system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-372
Number of pages24
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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