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The link between number and action in human infants

Abstract : Humans' inborn ability to represent and manipulate numerical quantities is supported by the parietal cortex, which is also involved in a variety of spatial and motor abilities. While the behavioral links between numerical and spatial information have been extensively studied, little is known about the connection between number and action. Some studies in adults have shown a series of interference effects when simultaneously processing numerical and action information. We investigated the origins of this link by testing forty infants (7- to 9-month-old) in one of two experimental conditions: one group was habituated to congruent number-hand pairings, where the larger the number, the more open the hand-shape associated; the second group was habituated to incongruent number-hand pairings, where the larger the number, the more close the hand-shape associated. In test trials, both groups of infants were presented with congruent and incongruent pairings. We found that only infants habituated to congruency showed a significantly higher looking time to the test trial depicting incongruent pairings. These findings show for the first time that infants spontaneously associate magnitude-related changes across the dimensions of number and action-related information, thus offering support to the existence of an early, preverbal number-action link in the human mind.
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Submitted on : Saturday, May 21, 2022 - 4:17:25 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 11:56:13 AM

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Gisella Decarli, Ludovica Veggiotti, Maria de Hevia. The link between number and action in human infants. Scientific Reports, 2022, 12, pp.3371. ⟨10.1038/s41598-022-07389-9⟩. ⟨hal-03674893⟩

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