Start Date

17-8-2010 10:45 AM

End Date

17-8-2010 12:00 PM


Here we describe the nature and use of spatial strategies in a standard nonverbal addition task in two groups of children, comparing children who speak only languages in which counting words are not available with children who were raised speaking English. We tested speakers of Warlpiri and Anindilyakwa aged between 4 and 7 years old at two remote sites in the Northern Territory of Australia. These children used spatial strategies extensively, and were significantly more accurate when they did so. English-speaking children used spatial strategies very infrequently, but relied an enumeration strategy supported by counting words to do the addition task. The main spatial strategy exploited the known visual memory strengths of Indigenous Australians, and involved matching the spatial pattern of the augend set and the addend. These findings suggest that counting words, far from being necessary for exact arithmetic, offer one strategy among others. They also suggest that spatial models for number do not need to be one-dimensional vectors, as in a mental number line, but can be at least twodimensional.

Reeve 2010.pdf (3643 kB)

Aug 17th, 10:45 AM Aug 17th, 12:00 PM

Using mental representations of space when words are unavailable: Studies of enumeration and arithmetic in Indigenous Australia


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