Infant Cognition of Ordinal-Numerical Relationships: A Low Cognitive Demand Study
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The current study investigates the development of ordinal-numerical relationships in infancy. Brannon (2002) found that between the ages of 9 and 11 months of age infants begin to be able to attend to the ordinal properties of arrays of elements. A subsequent study provided evidence that 9-month-old infants could also succeed in ordinal-based tasks if given multiple redundant cues (i.e., element size, surface area, contour length etc.) (Suanda, Tompson, & Brannon, in press). In the current study, which followed the procedure of other habituation paradigms, 9- and 11-month-old infants were simultaneously shown two sets of numerosities that varied in number, color, and element shape to test the hypothesis that by lowering the cognitive demand of the task, 9-montholds would be able to attend preferentially to novel stimuli that changed in ordinal direction. The results showed 11-month-old infants were successful in attending to the change in ordinal direction in the stimuli, but 9-month-old infants failed. These conclusions are consistent with other previous studies involving ordinal relationships. This research is significant because it helps to determine if the development of pre-verbal ordinal knowledge in infants creates the framework for later verbal numerical knowledge. Also, by comparing the results of human infants and non-human animals researchers can provide evidence of the evolutionary basis for the development of number and numerical spatial relationships.
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